Through Gazette notice number 1555 of March 11, 2015, the government placed a ceiling on school fees payable in boarding secondary schools at Sh53,554 per annum and Sh9,397 for day schools. The ceiling for Special schools was placed at Sh37,210 annually.
These amounts were expected to cover the cost of boarding, meals, local travel, electricity, water, repairs and maintenance, among other things.
To date, that notice has not been revoked, yet some school principals chose, and continue to ignore the directive. As schools continue to open their doors this week, some parents have complained of being charged much higher fees.
Public outcry has prompted Cabinet Secretary for Education George Magoha to warn principals against arbitrarily increasing fees. This, however, is not enough; the directive should be vigorously enforced.
Not surprisingly, school heads cite many reasons – most of them unconvincing - why they should be allowed to levy higher fees than the recommended amounts. In all this, key stakeholders in the education sector have remained silent.
Besides championing the rights of their members, teachers’ unions should be seen to defend the interests of parents and pupils, especially during these hard economic times in which even the government is cutting costs. Schools should, and can cut costs, because the parents they expect to cushion their shocks feel the economic bite even more. Schools could start by scrapping such fees as building, bus and tuition among the many charges that in the end amount to nothing short of extortion. Ultimately, everyone must cut their suits according to the size of their cloth.
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