Parents Raise Concern Over School Reopening Extortion Schemes

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    Kenyan students heading home from school
  • It's a rush against time for parents as they device ways and means to raise the requisite fees ahead of the Monday, July 26 school re-opening. The resumption of studies comes after a nine-day holiday break.

    Four school terms have been squeezed into the 2021-2022 calendar years to cater for the time lost during the nine-month Covid-19 pandemic break that disrupted the learning cycle.

    Parents have taken issue with schools employing creative ways to levy extra fees without justification.

    CS Magoha with Beneficiaries of Elimu Scholarship Program On Thursday July 22,2021
    CS Magoha with Some of the Beneficiaries of Elimu Scholarship Program On Thursday, July 22, 2021

    Extra Charges

    Parents Association chairperson Nicholas Maiyo told that school heads were coining some names like remedials and motivational money in a bid to extort parents.

    He stated that parents were forking out thousands for the charges.

    "A school in Makueni asked parents to pay Ksh8,000 for money that they call curriculum development and we are very much aware that curriculum is made by the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD)."

    He added that the money cannot be audited and was likely going into the pockets of individuals.

    New CBC Books

    Some parents could not understand why Grade one students were required to have multiple books that cost thousands.

    KTN News anchor Lindah Ogutu disclosed that she had to buy books worth Ksh8,597 for her Grade One child.

    "Ksh8,000... For grade 1 books.... Which country wants to adopt me? I'm tired," she wrote and was backed up by other parents who were also facing the same predicament.

    Other requirements in the new curriculum include first aid kits, magnifying glasses and a cornucopia of other items required through the term.

    Maiyo explained that private school parents had to pay more because the institutions did not have the new Competence Based Curriculum (CBC) books.

    "Parents have a free will either to take their children to private schools or public. In private, they must acquire them from the shops but in public, they are provided free," he stated.

    An image of Nicholas Maiyo
    National Parents' Association Chairman Nicholas Maiyo speaking at a past press briefing.

    School fees reduction

    On July 22, 2021, Education CS George Magoha announced a reduction of school fees due to the short nature of the 2021 school calendar.

    He announced that National schools would pay Ksh8,500 less while Extra-County and County schools will pay Ksh5,500 less.

    “I want to make it clear that primary schools and day secondary schools are free in case of any charge, it should be approved and voluntary,” he stated.

    However, parents noted that these reductions were only announced in the media, but on the ground, school heads usually came up with extra charges that usually drove the fees back up to the original figures.

    A number of parents had outstanding balances from previous terms, with schools notifying learners that they would not be admitted back without the arreas as well as the new term's payment.

    Warning to School Heads.

    Magoha on Saturday, July 17, warned secondary school heads of sending students with a fees arrears home.

    He advised parents who had an arrears to talk to their school heads and request for more time to clear the arrears.

    "Every child must be taken to schools. The child has no capacity to say that they will not be going to schools," he reiterated.

    However, Magoha urged parents to be responsible and organise themselves to conform to the new school dates.

    The government has already disbursed the Ksh59.4 billion to secondary schools and Ksh15.2 billion for primary schools for the 2020-2021 year.

    School Heads' Take.

    Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association (Kessha) chairman Kahi Indimuli previously lamented that parents were taking advantage of Magoha's order and failing to pay student's school fees.

    "Principals are facing hard times because without funds, it's literally impossible to feed learners and cater for their boarding requirements," Indimuli stated.

    He added that schools relied on fees paid by the parents to run most operations in the schools.

    From left: Education PS Belio Kipsang, KESSHA Chairman Kahi Indimuli, and Education CS George Magoha address a press conference at Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development, on October 1, 2018
    KESSHA Chairman Kahi Indimuli (centre) and Education CS George Magoha (right) at a press conference at Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) on October 1, 2018