Relief for parents as government cuts school fees

By Irene Githinji
Friday, July 23rd, 2021 00:00 | 3 mins read
Education CS George Magoha with some of the beneficiaries of Elimu Scholarship Programme at Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development in Nairobi, yesterday. Photo/PD/Kenna Claude

Irene Githinji @gitshee

The Government yesterday ordered strict adherence to guidelines that reduced secondary school fees, saying that the terms are shorter than usual.

Education Cabinet Secretary, Prof George Magoha, said that owing to a revised school calendar, this term will be nine weeks less.

He said the reduction of fees was pegged on consultations with President Uhuru Kenyatta, to which he agreed that National schools pay Sh8,500 less than usual and Sh5,500 less for the rest of secondary schools.

“We have agreed, having consulted President Uhuru and he concurred, that we should prolate downwards because the term will be nine weeks less.

The government pays for everything except the food the child is eating while at school,” said Magoha.

The Covid-19 pandemic saw closure of learning institutions for nine months last year, a situation that called for a review of the school calendar.

All primary and secondary schools are set to resume learning on July 26 to start Term One of the 2021 calendar year while the second term will run from October to December.

The CS made the remarks when he launched the Elimu Scholarship Programme  (ESP) in Nairobi, which has seen the second cohort of 9,000 learners, who sat 2020 Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exam benefit.

“So if you are not boarding for nine weeks, then there is a saving. If you are going to eat at home for the nine weeks, you do not have to pay at school so we got to a generous midpoint where we said that for national schools you pay Sh8,500 less and for all other schools 5,500 less.

We are not going to let go, if teachers do not take action, the Government will,” Magoha stated.

He urged Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to act on the few unscrupulous teachers who refuse to heed calls for the fee directive, even as he castigated those who are asking for money in public primary schools.

“TSC needs to act on the few teachers who think they cannot be controlled by anybody.

I have been shown fees situations where some schools are demanding Sh5,000 in primary before you go to school.

That school is not yours, the children belong to Government, who do you think you are that you are punishing our children,?” posed the CS.

He also warned against sending children home over school fees, saying the assumption should not be that all the children come from a family that has money.

“All children must go to school. If you see that a child has no money you might be shocked to find that some of those being sent home have nowhere to go to,” said Magoha.

He said Covid-19 has devastated the economy and a large number of people lost their jobs hence there should be no charge for a child going to a public primary school, if there is a charge it should be for feeding and should be voluntary.

Money extortion 

“At least 75 per cent of high schools are day, in fact in all the day schools there should be no charge, you must be crazy to be giving a child a deal of Sh11,000 for feeding do not extort money from them,” warned Magoha.

“I have learnt painfully all the good things that you do people do not remember.

The orders that I got was that every child must go to school. Primary school is free and compulsory Government pays fees for all the children,” he added.

The CS said that all the 9,000 students who got ESP were very needy cases even as he urged other partners to step in and borrow a leaf from ESP and Wings to Fly to assist the many needy and vulnerable learners out there in need of support.

“We should not worry about those who did not get the scholarship, we have Constituency Development Fund but politicians should give the bursaries to deserving students only.

I would want to persuade them to go where the rubber meets the road because if you give scholarship to a child who can afford it, you have wasted that money,” he noted.

As the 2020 KCPE learners gear up to join to Form One on August 2, he said the Ministry will work with a multi-agency team  to ensure that all children who have got the scholarship get to schools adding that Government will seek donors to fund a third cohort of needy learners.

ESP, a World Bank funded programme will support 18,000 learners from needy and vulnerable households on full four-year secondary school scholarships, selected in two cohorts of 9,000 each.

“We will persuade them to see whether we can have a third cohort. This is money well spent because we have stability when even the poor have hope to climb up the ladder. Only educating the child will make the change and empower them.”

At the same time, the CS said the Government has disbursed Sh1.8 billion to provide food for the needy children especially those from the slums and arid and semi arid areas, in addition to introducing fortified porridge for early years learners.

Irene Githinji