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Sh37,000 for uniform: It's teeth-gnashing for parents as Form One students report to new schools

 

Parents sit as they wait for their children to be admitted at the Kerugoya boys high school in 2021.

 

Form One students will report to their respective schools this week as the 2022 education calendar begins.

Apart from school fees, parents will pay more for books, bedding, stationery and sports equipment, among other requirements in the wake of harsh economic times.

Unlike in the past when transition to secondary school happened in January after long December holidays, the 2022 group is expected to report - almost mid-year and is set to complete a three-term programme by December.

Admission letters seen by The Standard instruct parents to ensure the students report without fail on May 4 and pay school fees in full.

Speaking to The Standard, a parent said she spent Sh27,350 on uniforms, including blazzers, jumpers, socks, trousers and shirts for one student.

She said she had to travel to Nairobi to buy the uniform from a specific shop identified by the school. She said she was yet to buy shoes, mattress and blankets.

“The students had just a month to prepare after KCPE. Results were announced after two weeks and two weeks later they have to report. I fear for parents who don’t have the cash to buy everything in the list,” she said.

In Kisumu, majority of the extra-county schools and county schools have instructed parents to pay for school uniform on the reporting date.

ID cards

According to admission letters, most schools are charging between Sh5,650 and Sh10,500 for school uniform. Learners are required to part with between Sh2,000 and Sh2,500 for jumpers and Sh350 for school identity cards.

Some schools have instructed learners to pay cash for shoes, blankets, three-inch mattress, jumpers and bed covers when they report.

At Nyang’ori Boys High School in Kisumu, students will part with more than Sh8,000 for school uniform, including a jumper which costs Sh2,500.

According to the admission letters, the learners will pay Sh250 for school ID on reporting date but parents have been allowed to purchase other key items including mattresses, blankets and shoes from places of their choice.

St Cecilia Girls High School Misikhu is charging Sh9,300 for school uniform and Sh2,000 for a three-inch mattress. Learners will also pay Sh250 for stockings, Sh1,020 for bed covers, Sh400 for a bag, Sh2,250 for shoes, Sh350 for labelling of the items and Sh350 for school ID. And Malava Boys High School in Western, parents will pay Sh7,300 for school uniform. 

Parents interviewed protested the exorbitant cost of school uniforms sold by schools.

“Head teachers should know the cost of living has gone up. Most parents may not afford the items the schools are selling,” said a parent.

But the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) supported schools’ decision to sell uniforms. Secretary General Akello Misori said schools require learners to have one uniform “and allowing learners to buy them from different shops could compromise this.”

Parents said yesterday that the government should issue a directive requiring schools to allow learners to buy uniform and other items from places of their choice. 

In Nandi, schools have instructed parents to ensure students report to school on May 4, failure to which they will lose their slots.

“We are pleased to inform you that you have been admitted to Our Lady of Mt Carmel Maryhill High School, Thika. Please note, failure to report on the specified dates means your place will be offered to someone else,” reads the admission letter seen by The Standard.

The letter that notified the candidate that she is expected to report on May 3, which had earlier been announced by the ministry before the date was changed to May 4, also states: “No student will be allowed in school without all fees plus other requirements.”

The fees structure according to the letter is Sh28,000 for first term, Sh10,000 and Sh7,000 for second and third term, respectively totaling to Sh45,000. However, the school indicated the fee structure may change during the year.  

Among the personal items students are required to present include Sh500 for plate and cup, two red plastic buckets, two reels sewing thread and needle (navy blue and white) while school uniforms should be purchased from Chania School Depot.

At Lelmokwo High School in Nandi, the management said students who fail to report on the admission date will automatically lose their chance.

“For the purpose of maintaining uniformity of colour scheme and quality, the school has identified prospective suppliers of school uniforms and some boarding items. Each student joining Form One should come with a money order worth Sh16,980,” states an admission letter.

The school’s fee structure totals Sh35,000, with Sh22,244 for first term, Sh17,500 and Sh7,000 for second and third term, respectively.

Not compulsory

The letter indicates that although not compulsory, students are advised to have Kamusi Teule ya Kiswahili, Toleo la - EAEP or Kamusi ya Kiswahili Sanifu, Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, Hymn Book and Bible.

At St Michael’s Boys High School Terige, an extra county school, students are required to buy full uniform, mattress, bed sheets and bed cover, a water bucket at a cost of Sh16,500. Branding of uniform will cost of Sh400, School ID Sh400 and Sh200 for Nemis.

At AIC Litein Girls Secondary School, students will be issued with uniforms upon payment of Sh19,270.

“Due to uniformity and quality purposes, uniform items are obtained in school, arrived at in a competitive bidding process, at Sh19,270 to be paid in cash upon arrival,” reads the admission letter.

The uniform includes two skirts, three blouses, a long sleeved sweater, a short sleeved sweater, a polo neck sweater, tracksuit, three pairs of white socks, a pair of trousers, half coat, bow tie, T-shirt, necktie, lab coat, towel, four-inch mattress, two blankets, pair of bed sheets, bed cover, bucket and a dozen pegs.

Students will also be required to pay Sh200 for a plate, cup and spoon.

At AIC Chebisaas in Nandi, parents will be required to pay Sh17,800 in cash or money order for uniforms.“Due to uniformity and quality purposes, uniform items will be given in school at Sh17,800 to be paid upon admission,” reads the admission letter.

Principals who spoke on condition of anonymity said they are facing challenges managing institutions with little resources, amid high cost of living and inflation.

“We strive to please the government and parents yet we have little resources. The government sometimes sets parents against principals by announcing that free education funds have been allocated yet it is delayed and does not come in full,” a principal said.

The head teacher added: “Government announces Sh22,000 free education funds per student but only Sh9,000 is received while the rest goes to buying text books that are already in school libraries. Some of our students lack birth certificates and do not benefit from government funding.”

Cooking oil

The head teacher said it is long since school fees was revised while the cost of living is fast rising. He cited cooking oil that was retailing at Sh1,700 which now goes for Sh6,000 while a bag of maize goes for 5,000.

Paul Rotich, the Kuppet Secretary in Nandi County said the idea to buy uniform from one point is to maintain uniformity and quality.

“There are variety of colours and if parents are asked to buy for example green uniform, some will buy dark green and others light green and of different texture of material hence ending up with clashing dress code in school,” said Rotich.

He, however, said some shops may take advantage of the monopoly of distribution to hike prices and schools should not be blamed. Mr Julius Korir, the Kuppet vice chairman said principals should not be blamed as procurement decision is arrived at after series of meetings with stakeholders. “There are always AGMs that resolve on all decisions made in institutions. Issues of procurement are decided after all procedures have been concluded. Our teachers should be left to run schools smoothly,” said Mr Korir.​

Meanwhile, public extra county and national schools are charging between Sh35,000 and Sh45,000 school fees per year.

And in Bungoma County, 7,000 Form One students will benefit from the governor scholarship programme in Bungoma County. At least 8,000 learners applied for the scholarship but 1,000 were dropped.

Selection of the beneficiaries involved impromptu visits to their homes and backgrounds checks, with only bright and needy learners being considered.

Governor Wycliffe Wangamati said he was encouraged by the performance of pioneer students enlisted under the scholarship programme. Ian Toyota Mwai, who was ranked number six nationally in 2021 KCSE, was among the beneficiaries. Sixteen out of the 500 pioneer students attained a mean grade A (plain). “We plan to expand the programme,” said Mr Wangamati.

Reports by Yvonne Chepkwony, Julius Chepkwony, Daniel Chege, Jackline Inyanji, Omelo Juliet and Titus Too