Wednesday, July 23, 2014

School heads warn against order on KCSE certificates

John Awiti, the chairman of the Kenya Secondary School Heads Association, at a past press briefing. PHOTO | FILE | NATION

John Awiti, the chairman of the Kenya Secondary School Heads Association, at a past press briefing. Mr Awiti said head teachers will be less lenient with parents who are not able to pay school fees. PHOTO | FILE | NATION 

By MARYANNE GICOBI
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The heads of secondary schools have raised concerns about a directive to release Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) certificates being withheld for non-payment of school fees.

The administrators argue that the order would set a precedent allowing parents of continuing students to refuse to pay school fees.

Addressing a press conference in Nairobi on Wednesday, Kenya Secondary School Heads Association chairman John Awiti said the directive leaves parents with no motivation to pay school fees since their children will get the certificate nonetheless.

“If you have nothing to hold … onto, then it will be difficult to have (the parents) pay school fees. This will throw schools into a crisis and head teachers will be forced to improvise some methods. But there is a limit to which you can improvise,” said Mr Awiti.

HUGE DEBTS

Education Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi on Monday directed heads of public secondary schools to release KCSE certificates in their custody.

The association's chairman said secondary schools were incurring huge debts with the suppliers and the non-teaching staff.

“We will see a situation where school property is auctioned since the principals do not have money to pay the suppliers. Schools can also be taken to courts by sundry creditors,” he said.

The association called on the government to engage them in a consultative meeting so that they can decide on the best way to handle the directive.

“The directive was just a blank statement where now everyone will be demanding for the certificates without checking how needy they are,” said Mr Awiti.

One of the issues that should be discussed, he said, was how far back in time school heads should go in issuing certificates, as some former students are already working.

DIFFERENT REASONS

The association also said head teachers had different reasons for holding onto the certificates. Some of the affected students had destroyed school property and the certificates were a surety that they would pay for the damage even after leaving the institution.

“As much as we support the directive, we are looking for a win-win situation where the school is not left in a crisis and only needy students benefit from the directive,” said Mr Awiti.

“One head teacher called me saying there is a former student who came driving a Prado and refused to pay fees arrears of Sh13,000 since there is an order to release certificates.”

Head teachers also raised concerns about the perpetual delay in the release of funds for free secondary education.

“Some mock exams have not yet started because the schools have not received funds from the government. The funds keep (being delayed)and it hampers smooth running of the school.”

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