More than 16,000 National Youth Service (NYS) recruits who have been undertaking various courses in technical training institutions have been barred from reporting back this term over fees arrears of over Sh3.3 billion.
The NYS is currently sponsoring 16,296 students in technical and vocational education training (TVET) institutions across the country.
Following the ballooning fee arrears held by the NYS, the Kenya Association of Technical Training Institutions (Katti) principals resolved to send the students away.
According to a letter dated September 6, 2019 and addressed to all TVET principals by Katti chairperson Glory Mutungi, the decision was reached after a consultative meeting with NYS and the Ministry of Education.
“…it was resolved that NYS students will not be allowed to report back to the institutions until the NYS clears the fees arrears they owe to the respective institutions,” it reads.
Speaking to the Nation, TVET Principal Secretary Kevit Desai said the institutions took the action due to financial stress caused by reduction of fees in the government's effort to increase enrollment.
“Each NYS student pays Sh109,500 per year. NYS currently owes our institutions Sh3,333,068, 637. Due to this, the TVET institutions are in the red,” Dr Desai said.
He added, “The reduction of fees has made most institutions operate on low margins. A national polytechnic needs about 10,000 students to run well while a technical institute needs a maximum of 5,000 students. Without fees, it is difficult to operate.”
The PS noted that the government is committed to having more than 400,000 youth enrolled in TVETs by next year through the capitation initiative.
Following the directive, student leaders at the Meru National Polytechnic called on the government to act with speed to avert disrupting learning for 1,400 NYS sponsored students.
Meru National Polytechnic Student Association Chairman Jackson Kirimi said the NYS students have been learning with a lot of difficulties due to delays in fees payment .
“Last year, many NYS students failed their exams due to being out of class over unpaid fees. Besides the delays, their upkeep was also reduced from Sh6,000 to Sh3,600 in unclear circumstances. The current impasse will further affect their performance. The government must act with speed to ensure the money is paid,” Mr Kirimi said.
In June this year, more than 1,000 NYS students had their KNEC results withheld over fees arrears amounting to Sh3 billion.