The burden on parents could become heavier if proposals by secondary school principals to increase fees by up to Sh18,000 a year are adopted.
The Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association (Kessha) has proposed the new fee structure for national, extra-county, county and day schools in a report to the Ministry of Education, citing huge budget deficits.
If approved, fees in extra-county schools will go up by 17,773, pushing the annual cost to Sh80,452, up from the current Sh62,679. Parents with children in national schools will fork out an additional Sh15,848, raising the annual fees to Sh91,646. The current annual fees in the 103 national schools is capped at Sh75,798.
And for county schools, parents would pay an additional Sh7,537, which would increase the fees to Sh70,216, up from the current Sh62,679.
Even with the current rates, parents have protested about questionable additional levies that are in violation of the ministry’s fees guidelines that drive up the cost in excess of Sh20,000 in some instances.
The headteachers also want purchase of textbooks suspended and the money used to equip information and communication technology (ICT) and laboratories. Each student receives textbooks worth Sh4,196. The principals say the supplied books are enough.
The heads also want a fraction of the money in some vote heads that are retained at the ministry such as medical fees and insurance to be released to schools.
“The fees charged in schools are highly inadequate as schools are operating on a shoe-string budget as prescribed by the fee guidelines,” reads the report.
Headteachers say debts are piling up in schools while infrastructure development has collapsed.
“We request the Government to consider the fee proposal for smooth running of our schools,” reads the report
The proposal presented to Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed means that if the Government does not absorb the additional costs, parents will have to shoulder the burden for the smooth running of schools.
Parents with children in day sub-county schools would also be hard hit. In addition to lunch money, they would also be required to pay Sh6,257 a year.
The report reveals that the more than 8,000 secondary schools are underfunded, pushing the institutions to an annual financial crisis.
It also exposes serious oversights by the ministry that have led to merging of costs and moving of funds from various vote heads, thereby depriving schools of the necessary funds to make an impact, even on infrastructure developments.
The Government sends Sh22,244 annually per child to cater for tuition fees, medical cover, activity fees and maintenance and improvement.
“The Ministry of Education has created an impression that it gives a grant of Sh22,244 per student while the actual remittance to schools in 2018 was Sh16,676.70. This is highly inadequate to run schools,” reads the report.
Broken down, the Government sends Sh4,644 per child to cater for tuition fees, which covers textbooks, exercise books, laboratory equipment and chemicals, reference materials and library materials.
School heads want boarding fees in nationals schools increased to Sh36,386 from the current Sh32,385, adding that the Government reduced the boarding fees for extra-county and county schools by Sh5,000.
They say other levies overlooked by the Government have pushed operation costs higher.