100,000 teachers to lose jobs over school fees cuts

NAIROBI: Secondary school head teachers have warned that cutbacks in school fees demanded by the Government will send home over 100,000 teachers employed by boards of management in the institutions.

Teachers employed by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) are not enough and the management of many public secondary schools are forced to hire teachers to bridge the gap.

But now the Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (Kessha) warns that schools will not have enough money to pay such teachers if their budgets are cut by the new fees guidelines issued by Education Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi.

Kessha contends that nearly all 7,800 secondary schools may be dragged to court by suppliers claiming breach of contract as they may find it difficult to pay their bills.

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Prof Kaimenyi is this week expected to gazette the guidelines that detail substantial reductions in school fees prompted by a public uproar after it emerged that many schools charge over Sh100,000 in fees.

The Government has directed that day secondary schools charge Sh9,374, boarding schools Sh53,553, and special schools Sh37,210 annually. The Government will top this up with an annual subsidy of Sh13,000 per student.

Yesterday, Kessha Chairman John Awiti protested the fees cap, saying Kaimenyi omitted “critical components” of fees structures.

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“The directive did not take care of funds schools use to pay teachers employed by boards of management and development funds,” said Mr Awiti.

VOTE ABOLISHED

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The new circular has abolished the Parents Teachers Association (PTA) vote that secondary school principals said “catered for any other oversight areas not factored in the normal ministry structure”.

“This is where money to recruit teachers, purchase buses and infrastructure development is derived from,” said Awiti.

However, Kaimenyi termed Kessha’s remarks “a big lie”.

“On BoM (boards of management) teachers, we raised the fees proposed by Kilemi Mwiria by 31 per cent to cater for that additional cost. It is not right for the teachers to say we have denied them the opportunity in that regard,” Kaimenyi said.

He said the PTA vote was scrapped because there are other alternative sources of funds like the Constituency Development Fund that BoMs can explore to fund their projects.

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He said ongoing projects must be completed, but warned that incoming Form One students must not be forced to pay for the same.

“The new guidelines must be implemented as stipulated,” Kaimenyi said, adding that it is the responsibility of parents to ensure their children are fed in school.

Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) Secretary General Wilson Sossion termed Kaimenyi’s proposed fees structure “unrealistic” because it does not consider major aspects of the school fees report.

“Cost escalation according to the report is largely due to recruitment of teachers by schools’ boards of management. This now stands at 100,000. The recommendation was that this gap be fixed first,” said Sossion.

He said that unless the Government employs over 100,000 teachers, it would be difficult to implement the new fees structure.

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Awiti said a serious breaches of contractual agreements will haunt schools as suppliers and contractors for various works demand compliance with signed agreements.

He said that secondary school principals are not against the scrapping of the PTA fund, but fear the “immediate consequences of implementing the guidelines shall be dire”.

Kamienyi has also zero rated meals in day schools, but Awiti said: “This means that funding of meals in day schools shall be a problem as there shall be no vote for it.”

All secondary schools have employed over three BoM teachers and the Government may not absorb them once they are sacked, he said.

“These teachers are going to face the sack because schools can no longer pay them. Some will just resign once they realise they are not being paid. This is the reality and the immediate challenge schools are going to face,” he said.

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