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Admit all students and negotiate with parents on fees, PS Jwan says

EDUCATION
By Augustine Oduor | October 12th 2021

Basic Education PS Jwan Julius. [David Njaaga, Standard]

Principals of secondary schools have been asked to admit all students as schools open for the second term today.

The term will last 11 weeks and will end on December 23.

Basic Education PS Jwan Julius also directed school heads to listen to students to understand their grievances as the second term begins.

“We want school heads to listen to their students’ problems because there are many indiscipline cases which must be contained,” said Jwan.

Jwan was reacting to the growing cases of fires reported in schools across the country.

The PS also wants the principals to harmonise their fees accounts to account for extra money paid by parents during term one admissions.

Jwan said most schools sent old fees structures to parents, which were used to pay term one fees resulting in overpayment. “We are asking the heads to ensure they roll over to the second term, the extra money parents might have paid during term one so that they do not pay extra money again,” said Jwan.

In an August 9 circular to school heads, Jwan said: “Any fees collected above the revised guidelines be refunded or treated as prepayment of fees for continuing students.”

He also said that all extra levies charged on parents against the fees guidelines be refunded. Jwan added the money to be rolled over to the second term and parents asked to pay the correct balances.

The PS however directed heads not to send any student home for failure to pay second term fees. “We have encouraged heads of schools to talk with parents and agree how fees will be paid so that no child is sent home. This is a short and tight term that no time should be wasted,” said Jwan.

Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (Kessha) National Chairman, Kahi Indimuli asked parents to pay fees, noting it was reduced by Sh8,000 to ease their burden.

“We shall listen to parents, but it is important for the government to also encourage parents to continue paying fees. We know they have suffered and as teachers, we are also parents and everyone has been hit. But schools must run,” said Indimuli.

Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (KESSHA) Chairman Kahi Indimuli. [John Muia, Standard]

The government lowered this year’s fees by up to Sh8,500 citing the effects of Covid-19 that reduced the school calendar by nine weeks.

Parents with children in national and extra-county schools located in towns are expected to pay a maximum yearly fee of Sh45,000. Those with children in county and sub-county secondary schools are to pay a maximum of Sh35,000 per year while special needs schools should charge Sh10,860.

National Parents Association chairperson, Nicholas Maiyo said parents will strive to pay fees, but noted that they will not pay illegal levies.

“We are in agreement as parents that we shall make all efforts to pay fees. But we shall not pay even a coin towards those extra levies,” said Maiyo.

Maiyo said most schools still have hidden illegal costs in their fees which they are demanding from parents. “Some of these monies are not even receipted. They call them all sorts of names and parents are coerced to pay this money,” said Maiyo.

Jwan said reports at the Ministry of Education show that schools recover these levies upfront before crediting money paid as fees into the students’ fees accounts.

“This makes students have false fees arrears leading to them being sent home,” said Jwan.

Indimuli however said it is not right for parents to send children to school without money. “For the entire first term, Form Ones used monies that were disbursed to cater for continuing students, this is not sustainable,” said Indimuli.

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha said the government has released Sh17.8 billion to cater for second term fees for continuing students and also settle pending bills for Form Ones.

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha. [File, Standard]

Out of this money, some Sh15.8 billion will cater for Free Day Secondary School while Sh2.2 billion will go towards Free Primary Education.

PS Jwan said that a list of principals breaching the fees guidelines will be sent to the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) for action. “We have compiled a list and we are sending some cases to TSC for action, where we have gathered enough evidence,” said Jwan.

Speaking in parliament last week, Magoha made reference to the August 9, 2021, circular that also directed schools to stop charging illegal levies.

Magoha said that the circular specified the action to be taken in line with Section 46 of the Basic Education Regulations, 2015.

“TSC has already initiated disciplinary process against several principals who have gone against the guidelines on payment of school fees,” said Magoha.

The CS asked parents to continue being vigilant on schools still charging extra levies.

“The Ministry receives reports from parents about schools charging the illegal levies including remedial fees. Investigations will be conducted,” said Magoha.

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