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Secondary schools’ fees just a rip-off

LETTERS
By | April 6th 2010

It was not surprising to read in The Standard’s ‘Education’ pullout that affordable secondary education remains elusive three years after the Government introduced subsidised learning.

The subsidy came with recommendations from the Education Ministry that tuition in public day schools should be free while boarding schools charge a maximum of Sh18,627 a year.

When the Government announced a subsidy of Sh10,625 a student, it was hailed as a noble initiative and it appeared like the era of affordable education had finally dawned on us.

However, students in public national and provincial schools, where one hopes to get quality education, have not benefited from the subsidy because the schools charge as much as Sh50,000 above ministry fees guidelines.

Indeed, few of these schools can account for how they spend the Government subsidy. To conceal this anomaly from those who might ask questions, many schools no longer bother to give a fee structure for the next academic year at the end of third term.

True to our nature of blaming others, everyone in the education sector is passing the buck over the high cost of education. Parents fault schools for introducing many unnecessary levies while schools blame the high cost of living and the Government for delaying to disburse funds.

Fees guidelines

On his part, Education Minister Sam Ongeri has insisted on several occasions that fees guidelines are valid and schools should not raise fees illegally. The end result is that the children of the poor who had celebrated on admission to these top schools end up dropping out after barely a year of schooling.

These children are then condemned to village day schools where education is affordable. The tragedy is that despite being bright, they end up performing dismally in KCSE because little teaching ever takes place in such godforsaken schools.

I, therefore, smell a conspiracy to lock out the poor from acquiring quality education that starts right from day one of schooling. The poor will enroll in public primary schools for the so-called Free Primary Education (FPE). Such schools lack facilities, sufficient teachers and the disbursement of FPE funds is erratic.

Because little teaching actually takes place, few teachers enrol their children in these schools. These teachers also advise parents to withdraw bright children from public to private schools where quality teaching takes place.

That is why it takes a miracle for such candidates to attain 250 marks in KCPE and, therefore, cannot even harbour a dream of being admitted to provincial and national schools.

Revolution

With this kind of scenario, the gap between the rich and the poor will continue to widen, something the rich appear to cherish. This is dangerous because history teaches us this is a recipe for a revolution. The poor will one day resolve that enough is enough and try to forcibly take what has been denied them for so long.

The only way the vicious cycle of poverty can be broken is through acquisition of quality education. It is imperative that the Government makes education affordable to all so that the national cake can be seen to be shared equally.

{Kimani wa Njuguna, Gatundu}

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