Thousands of Form One students report to new schools
SEE ALSO :Matiang'i: It is harassmentIn Mt Kenya region, Form One students and their guardians braved long queues under the scorching sun waiting for admission. Day schools reported a record number of new students, with parents eager to take advantage of the free education. Ngangarithi Secondary School principal Samuel Muthee said the school had received the first batch of free learning materials. “We have already received all the books the Form One students will use. We have also received the funds that had been promised by the Government hence parents have no reason to keep their children at home,” said Mr Muthee. Lunch money The only money parents at the school are required to pay is Sh3,000 each term to cater for lunch. Across the country, parents still complained about the high cost of school uniform, as shops made a killing from the high demand for kits and equipment. In some institutions, parents were required to write bankers' cheques for as much as Sh7,000 in the name of a specific uniform distributor before collecting the uniform at the school. "We are still paying so much for uniforms even though learning is free. The Government should also look into this matter because we are being exploited," said Nancy Wanjiku, a parent. Most of the schools have largely adhered to the Ministry of Education curriculum to avoid issuing unnecessary demands on parents. Still, a number of schools are making unique requests from the new learners. At Mahiga Girls, for example, the new learners are required to carry a white embroidered cloth which, according to school's admission letter, will be used to cover the students' trunk. Cleaning rags In other girl’s schools such as, Tumu Tumu and Naro Moru, the new learners were required to buy cleaning rags. In Murang’a, a number of head teachers complained that they were yet to receive adequate funding to expand their facilities to handle the high numbers expected under the free secondary education programme. At St Joseph Boys, principal Wilson Yego said the school planned to admit 432 new students to Form One after the introduction of free learning. At St Anthony Boys Kitale, parents expressed satisfaction with the reduction of school fees by Sh22,000 from the usual Sh75,000 in national schools per year. Some parents whose children attend extra-county and county schools said school fees had dropped from Sh52,000 to Sh40,000 per year. In Nairobi, parents were paying up to Sh10,000 to cater for first term meals and were also expected to add Sh3,000 and Sh1,000 for second and third term respectively. “The challenge is buying the uniform. A blazer costs Sh3,000 and trousers are Sh1,000. A shirt is going for Sh500 and a sweater is Sh1,000,” said a parent who identified herself as Catherine. This called for some innovation. "I will get the trousers from the market at a lower price since it does not require a school label," said Catherine.