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Six city schools under probe as parents decry illegal charges

A parent is dropped by a boda boda operator at the fate of Bidii Primary School in Buruburu, Nairobi.  [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

Six city primary schools are on the spot for charging irregular fees before admitting new pupils.

The Ministry of Education has dispatched a team of auditors to probe the schools, following complaints from parents.

On August 10, Regional Director of Education Jared Obiero wrote letters to Kifaru, Busara, Unity, Bidii, Peter Kibukosya and other primary schools for allegedly charging admission and other illegal fees.

“We have received numerous complaints from parents that you still continue receiving/charging admission fees and other illegal fees despite our communication vide circular... dated May 20, 2021,” said Obiero in the letter.

“Take notice that this practice contravenes the provision of the Kenyan Constitution and Basic Education Act 2013 on the right of the child to free and compulsory education.”

Obiero said his office was compiling more evidence from the parents, which would be shared with relevant offices for appropriate action.

He told The Standard that already a team of auditors has been dispatched to the six schools to verify the parents’ allegations.

Jane Anyango, a parent, says she visited Bidii Primary School in Buruburu estate on July 26, seeking admission for her children in Grade Two and Four. “I was told to pay Sh8,000 for each child or the chance would be given to another parent willing to pay. I could not raise the money in three days” she told The Standard.

School head teacher Ann Odhiambo did not answer our calls or respond to messages when we sought a clarification.

Investigations by The Standard have established that parents who are looking for admissions in public schools are forced to bribe their way for the slots, contrary to the government’s directive on free basic education.

Some schools have created paybill numbers for payment of lunch fees, ranging between Sh800 and Sh1,500 per month.

We accompanied a parent to Kifaru Primary School in Embakasi West Sub-county to seek admission for a Grade Four pupil.

Pay bill number

Here, the parent was asked to pay Sh500 for interviews and Sh6,000 for admission, which is channelled through a pay bill number.

Head teacher Rose Mwanga told The Standard that the school board of management had sanctioned the fees.

“I have sat down with the parents and the board and looked at the cost of running the school vis a vis the money given by the government. We charge parents so that we are able to run the school,” said Mwanga.

“As a sober Kenyan who is not corrupt and means well for the school. Come and talk to the board.”

She said the school board is made up of 16 members, including parents and some professionals who are co-opted.

At Peter Kibukosya, the security guard was tasked to inform parents seeking admission for their children that they had to pay Sh1,000 for interviews and Sh9,800 for admission.

Head teacher Fransisca Anyango said the matter was under the county director of education and auditors were scheduled to visit the school to audit and submit a report.

Other public schools, including Unity, Tumaini and Busara, charge between Sh500 and Sh1,000 for interviews and from Sh5,000 for admission.

However, a number of teachers interviewed said the charges were meant for desks and other miscellaneous costs. They said public schools are not well funded to cater for everything.

“As you can see, we have about 2,000 pupils in this school alone. Government schools are not well equipped and that is why we ask those coming in for admission to pay for desks,” said one of the headteachers.

“In some instances parents meet and agree on some issues like fixing leaking roofs. It is done in an open manner where they nominate their treasurer for accountability.”

Kenya Primary School Headteachers Association (Kepsha) Chairman Johnson Nzioka said the admission fees are illegal.

He said some parents agree with the boards of management to support the schools with some funding to supplement what is provided by the government, but “the head teacher must seek authority on such issues.”

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