Relief for parents as school heads drop extra charges after talks

He called for sobriety on the school fees matter, saying it had created unnecessary pressure and tension in schools.

Wednesday January 6 2016

Heads of special-needs schools at a consultative meeting with education stakeholders at the Ministry of Education offices in Jogoo House, Nairobi, on January 5, 2016. The schools are yet to receive about Sh420million as capitation almost two months since the re-opening of schools. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Heads of special-needs schools at a consultative meeting with education stakeholders at the Ministry of Education offices in Jogoo House, Nairobi, on January 5, 2016. The schools are yet to receive about Sh420million as capitation almost two months since the re-opening of schools. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By OUMA WANZALA
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Parents on Tuesday got some reprieve after secondary school heads agreed to drop extra charges and adhere to the fees guidelines released by the government.

The decision was arrived at after a two-hour meeting chaired by Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i and attended by Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) and Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) officials at Jogoo House, Nairobi, following protests from parents.

This is set to be a relief to thousands of parents who have been paying as much as Sh100,000 a year in school fees.

Dr Matiang’i and the Teachers Service Commission have threatened to take disciplinary action against school heads, who ignore the guidelines.

Schools that face peculiar challenges are required to engage directly with the Education CS for further guidance and approval of any extra charges.

Parents will now be required to pay Sh53,554 for boarding school, Sh9,374 for day schools and Sh37,210 for special need schools, while the government will provide a subsidy of Sh12,870 for each learner per year.

However, stakeholders in the education sector will embark on a review of the school fees from next month to June to prepare a new structure for next year.

On Tuesday, Dr Matiang’i and Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang did not turn up for the press conference at Jogoo House after the meeting.

Instead, leaders of school heads association and teachers’ unions addressed journalists.

ALL IS WELL

They said the issue of school fees had been blown out of promotion as it is only about seven per cent of schools that had gone against the fees guidelines.

Kenya Secondary School Heads Association Chairman John Awiti said school boards would meet to rectify fees structures that fail to adhere to the ministry guidelines.

“We have identified some of the challenges such as money for lunch for day scholars, salaries for BOM teachers and infrastructure development in schools. We will be engaging the ministry to resolve those issues,” said Mr Awiti.

Mr Awiti added that schools with challenges such as loans from financial institutions will also seek guidance from the CS directly.

He called for sobriety on the school fees matter, saying it had created unnecessary pressure and tension in schools.

He spoke as three MPs criticised schools that had increased fees.

“This arbitrary and insensitive increments in school fees, particularly at secondary level, must not only be seen as an attempt to deny our children this fundamental right, but is actually an act of cruelty,” said Mbooni MP Kisoi Munyao, who is also a member of the National Assembly’s Education Committee.

Kibra MP Ken Okoth and his Rarieda counterpart Nicholas Gumbo called for the sacking of school heads who have ignored the ministry directive on fees.

However, Knut Secretary-General Wilson Sossion said MPs should provide more funds to the TSC so that it can recruit teachers instead of condemning the headteachers.

“About 37 per cent of teachers in public schools are employed by boards of management and that burden goes back to parents. Instead of pushing for punishment of school heads, MPs should set aside money to hire more teachers,” said Mr Sossion.

He also called on MPs to allocate a bigger share of CDF budget for infrastructure development in schools.

Kuppet Secretary-General Akelo Misori said the fees dispute was a storm in a tea cup but asked school heads to stick to the set guidelines.

“We now need a database for school commitment in terms of infrastructure development so that any increase is based on the needs of a school,” he said.

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