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School heads insist parents should clear fees balance

By Noven Owiti
Monday, July 20th, 2020
Kessha has said parents need to clear first term fees because there are salaries to be paid, bank loans to service and utility bills to settle. Photo/PD/Noven Owiti

As debate rages over the lost 2020 academic year and postponement of national examinations, secondary school heads now want students to clear First Term fees to cater for their upkeep.

Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association (Kessha) chairman Kahi Indimuli told Scholar last week that there is no clear direction on what schools, especially boarding institutions, should do regarding  learners who had either paid fees partially or those who did not pay at all.

He argued that already, schools had incurred debts while taking care of the learners during the period they were in school hence it is prudent for them to clear fees for the specified duration.

Accrued debts 

He said the funds will enable basic education institutions to meet the cost of paying accrued debts and other necessities.

“Parents should be aware that they have the obligation to clear fees arrears for their children to cover the period they were in school,” Indimuli said.

However, he noted that schools are ready to carry forward fees for students who had paid to cater for the whole year.

“There should not be any worry among parents at all over extra fees paid for their children.

The funds will definitely be pushed to their learning next year,” he said.

This reaction by school heads came following a move by the government to declare this year’s academic calendar lost and directed that all students repeat their current classes, a decision occasioned by Covid-19 pandemic impact on the education sector.

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha declared fees that had initially been paid by parents for Second and Third terms be forwarded to next year, but did not give direction on what would happen to those who had not paid First Term’s fees.

Parents on the other hand expressed mixed reactions on the situation with some parents demanding that schools also reimburse some of the money paid before the outbreak of the disease.

The parents lamented about the harsh economy, with employees being laid off and several companies shutting down.

They pointed to the fact that the fees paid in the First Term would not be fully utilised.

Others said they would let go off first term fees, but any extras be carried foward to 2021.

“I paid first term and part of second term fees. I don't mind if they don't refund first term fees but I hope the school will carry forward the balance to next years,” said Eric Otieno, a parent in Kisumu.

The association boss regretted that some schools are already faced with financial difficulties such as paying non-teaching staff and utility bills.

According to Indimuli, funds inadequacy has led to water and power disconnection in institutions over pending bills and even some schools, especially private ones closing down completely.

He urged the Ministry of Education to fast-track release of capitation funds for the schools’ development vote head, saying the institutions are staring at a financial crisis in the coming days if no money is channelled to their accounts.

Adherence to directive 

Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) Kisumu branch executive secretary Zablon Awange said the ministry must prove to be realistic on the extra fee directive by ensuring it is adhered to the letter.

He said private schools should also follow suit by carrying forward fees for their learners who paid for the entire year.

“We don’t want parents given an exorbitant fee balance next year. We urge the ministry to come out clearly through a circular to echo the recent pronouncements by CS Magoha regarding unspent fees,” he added.

Awange further called on the government to urgently release free secondary and infrastructure funds to assist schools not only meet their wage obligation, but also start building extra classrooms as a way of post-Covid-19 preparation in the education sector 2021 and beyond.

He noted that a number of secondary schools are constrained financially and are unable to pay workers including Board of Management teachers.