Needy students flock to schools as principals opt to find solutions

Charles Odede. He reported to Chavakali High School with only a paper bag carrying a few items. [Benard Lusigi, Standard]

Form One students reported to various schools, with some carrying empty boxes and without school fees.

In Vihiga County, Charles Odede from Kisumu County arrived and walked into the compound of Chavakali High School with only a paper bag carrying a few items.

Odede from Kadibo constituency, who scored 391 marks in KCPE, said due to poverty, his single mother could not afford to buy him a metal box and uniform.

"I came to this school last week, on Friday, to plead with the school principal to preserve my slot for me and not send me back home during the official opening," said Odede.

"The principal offered me a pair of school uniforms, and I am only pleading with well-wishers to come to my rescue and help me actualize my dream of becoming a doctor."

'Only a metal box'

Joseph Matioli from Shikumo village, Ikolomani constituency in Kakamega, also arrived at Chavakali with only a metal box.

Matioli, like Odede, went to the school on Thursday last week to plead with the school principal to preserve his slot for him ahead of Form One admission.

“I scored 384 marks in KCPE, but my father has no job and therefore no financial muscle to fund my education. He only managed to buy for me the metal box, sugar, and a bar soap,” said Matioli.

Chavakali Principal Edward Wachilonga said they expect to admit 384 Form One students, adding that he received numerous cases of needy but bright students turning up for admission without anything.

“These students are very bright, and they are eager to learn, but what is standing between their education and dream is poverty. We've decided to allow those who are extremely poor to be admitted and stay in school as we seek scholarships and assistance from politicians,” he said.

Kakamega High Principal Julius Mambili said he expected at least 700 Form Ones, adding that the cases of needy students were common and a desk to assess the cases had been set up.

“I have set up a team of teachers who are assessing the family background of the needy student before allowing them in school. We have a group of old students who have agreed to educate such students,” said Mambili.

At Kapsabet Boys High, a National School in Nandi, admissions commenced at 6am where parents were received by staff in tents prepared in advance.

600 expected

Over 600 learners were expected for admission, and 90 per cent had already reported by noon.

"Everything is running smoothly. We will take the shortest time possible to admit students to conveniently allow their guardians to leave early for their respective homes," said Kipchumba Maiyo, the Kapsabet Boy's chief Principal.

Parents spent the better part of Monday morning in long queues in various bank branches in Kapsabet town, while others utilised the latest money transfer technologies through their mobile phones in making payments.

In some schools, students had to report without uniforms due to shortages in some outlets due to high demand.

Milka Koech said for the past three days, she has not been able to purchase school uniforms for her son from designated shops as directed by the school management due to a shortage.

Some parents claimed they paid as high as Sh15,000 for uniforms, which was too expensive.

In Trans Nzoia, most Form One students reported to local schools without fees and other required items, posing challenges to institutions already struggling with debts.

At St Anthony Boys Kitale, some parents arrived without fees, but the management admitted the students on agreed fee-paying arrangements with parents. Deputy Principal George Onsare led teachers and students to welcome new parents and their sons.

The school principal, Simon Masibo, said some parents reported without fees and some of the required items. He said due to economic hardship, some parents were unable to raise money to pay fees.

"Unfortunately, some students and parents have arrived with empty boxes and without the required fees, but I have asked them to make sacrifices to ensure they remit fee balances at the agreed period to have their children remain in school," said Onsare.

Bending the rules

In Nakuru county, some schools were forced to bend rules to allow learners from poor backgrounds to get admission. At Nakuru Boys High School, the management accepted all learners selected to join the institution despite some parents not being able to pay the entire fee amount.

Mary Mogaka, a resident of Kaptembwo, was lucky after her daughter, who was selected to Moi Girls High School, received a bursary.

"Many basic learning materials were expensive. We missed out on a scholarship but were lucky to get a bursary from the Nakuru West National Government-Constituency Development (NG-CDF) bursary. My daughter will report on time," she said after receiving a cheque from the MP Samuel Arama.

Arama disbursed a Sh12 million bursary to support learners from needy families joining Form One. He said learners reporting to national schools will receive Sh26,000 while those joining county schools will receive Sh20,000.

The Standard, in a spot check, established that most of the schools had informed parents to purchase school uniforms from the institution, contrary to a Ministry of Education directive to principals that no school will direct parents to any particular outlet to purchase uniforms and no school will stock any uniforms and boarding-related items.

Mary Kamau, who accompanied her daughter to Moi Forces Academy Lanet, said they were instructed to purchase the uniform at the institution.

“To me, it is a good move to avoid getting the wrong uniform and long queues,” she said.

[Reporting by Yvonne Chepkwony, Edward Kosut, Osinde Obare, Joackim Bwana, Benard Lusigi]