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Cost of education rising beyond reach

By | March 31st 2010 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

By Harold Ayodo and Titus Too

Affordable secondary education remains elusive three years after the Government introduced subsidised learning.

It is now apparent that students in many public national and provincial schools have not benefited from subsidised education. Most schools in this category charge as high as Sh50,000 above the Education ministry guidelines and fail to account for how they spend the Government subsidy of Sh10,265.

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Many schools charge more than what the Government recommends for a year for just one term. The introduction of the subsidy came with a recommendation from the Education ministry that public day schools should be free and boarding ones to charge a maximum of Sh18, 627 a year. This replaced an earlier guideline that had largely been ignored by schools for years, which recommended that national schools charge Sh26,900, provincial and district boarding (Sh22,500) and day (Sh19,000) annually.

A survey by The Standard reveals that national and top provincial schools charge fees as high as Sh73,600 for two terms, including the subsidy.

For instance, at Moi Girls’ High School – Eldoret, a national school, Form Three students paid Sh44,650 for first term excluding the subsidy. For the same period Form Two students at Loreto High School Limuru paid Sh26,600 and at Nairobi’s Moi Forces Academy they were charged Sh19,334 while Form One students at Alliance High paid Sh25,476.

Entire year

The fees are increasing at such a dizzying rate that many schools no longer give a fee structure for the next academic year at the end of third term. For instance, at the beginning of the year students at Loreto High School only got the term one fee structure while Alliance and Moi Girls covered the first two terms. But everyone is passing the buck over the high cost of education. Parents fault schools for introducing unnecessary levies while head teachers blame the high cost of living and delays by the Government to disburse funds. Although first term is coming to an end this week the Government has sent a paltry Sh2,050 of Sh10,265 per student for old students and nothing for Form Ones.

Still Education minister Sam Ongeri has insisted on several occasions that fees guidelines are valid and schools should not raise fees illegally but the ministry is yet to crack the whip on principals who go against them.

According to fees structures of top schools obtained by Education, school charge numerous levies.

The fees for Nyanza’s Asumbi Girls High, a provincial school, includes uniforms that have to be bought at the school for between Sh4, 500 to Sh6,000. Though the charges are not indicated on the fees structure, they are included in the joining instructions as part of school rules and regulations.

Other schools require students to buy items that are not directly linked to learning such as plastic chairs.

For instance at Embakasi Girls, a district school, new students pay Sh47,120 a year, including a Sh5,000 desk and bed levy.

University levy

At Moi Girls High School – Eldoret specific items plus the subsidy include electricity, water and conservancy (Sh11,400), local transport and travelling (Sh1,700) and contingency and administration (Sh1,800). Although the Government declared secondary education tuition free, the school charges Sh1,500 for tuition in addition to the Sh3,600 subsidy for the same.

According to KCSE results released last month, Moi Girls High had 165 candidates in Form Four. Assuming each year has the same number then the school has 660 students who pay about Sh7, 524,000 for electricity, water and conservancy and Sh6, 138,000 for personal emoluments for first and second term.

Specifics at Loreto include tuition (1,615), boarding (Sh6,490), repairs maintenance and improvement, (Sh1,000), local transport and travelling (Sh2,000), contingencies (Sh1,000), activity (Sh500), salaries (Sh3,200), medical (Sh370) and gratuity (Sh710). Development fund (Sh3,500), computer fees (Sh1,300), insurance (Sh1,290) and PTA subscription fee (Sh1,075) are also levied.

Assuming Loreto, which had 184 candidates in KCSE, last year has a population of 736 students then Sh791,200 was raised from PTA subscription fees and Sh736,000 from Strengthening of Mathematics and Science in Secondary Education levy.

Alliance High, which has about 960 students, will collect Sh240,000 for PTA retirees and Sh960,000 for PTA subscription in first term.

According to the Government a student in a public school paid between Sh6,000 and Sh7,000 for tuition and operation costs before the subsidy was introduced.

Provincial schools are also exceeding their limits. Students at Buru Buru Girls High School will pay Sh38,900 this year while Kabare Girls High charged Sh26,235 last year including a university application levy of Sh300.

Many day schools have ignored the Government directive that students in public day schools learn free. For instance, at Thokoa secondary School in Mwingi District students pay Sh5, 000 including Sh2, 000 per term for lunch.

Bus fund

At Bondo’s Majiwa Secondary School day scholars pay Sh4,500 per year for lunch, development fund (Sh2,000) and bus fund (Sh5,000).

Principal Dick Owade says they also charge for priority development projects and remedial classes to improve performance.

"We offer boarding for Sh18,000 per year excluding levies," Owade says.

Many of the levies are introduced using Education ministry rules, which provide that schools can raise fees with the approval of the Board of Governors and District Education Boards.

Alliance High Principal David Kariuki says the school follows the procedure before increasing fees. "We have PTA meetings where parents suggest the need to increase fees towards quality and efficiency," he says.

Kariuki says fees guidelines set for national schools is insufficient. "We have 960 students and pay an average of Sh700,000 for electricity alone monthly…We use power even to pump water," he says. Kariuki says the over 100-acre school has several employees who are paid with funds raised from the fees. "Take the case of our accountant who is in a higher job group than the one in a provincial or district school…he needs a modest salary," he says.

The Kenya Union of Post Primary Teachers Nyanza secretary Kepher Oguwi says principals are justified to increase fees following delays in disbursement of funds. "The Government has remitted on Sh2,050 oper child this year…," he says.

Additional Samuel Otieno



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