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New tricks school heads are using to milk more cash from parents

NATIONAL
By Augustine Oduor | July 5th 2021

Form one admission process at Kakamega high school.[Benjamin Sakwa,Standard]

Principals of secondary schools are on the spot for charging new parents seeking Form One admissions extra levies.

It has emerged that most schools are asking parents to pay between Sh5,000 and Sh35,000 ‘development fees’ before being issued admission letters.

Details seen by The Standard show that the practice is widespread across many high schools. Principals argue that the levies have been approved by parents and school boards.

Parents are asked to make payments to designated bank accounts of the schools under the development account. After payments, parents are asked to forward bank slips to schools or present the same when their children are admitted.

Education Permanent Secretary Jwan Julius termed as illegal any charge levied on parents without ministry approvals. He said parents must stop making such payments and advised them to report such cases.

“The guidelines are clear on what schools’ management boards should do when they want to raise any additional money. And we cannot leave it open for all schools to charge extra levies,” said Jwan.

He said such levies, even when approved by parents, must still be ratified by the ministry. “We are working hard to cushion parents from the high cost of education but some principals are still keen to reverse such gains. These are illegal practices that we must stop,” said Jwan.

Secondary School Heads Association national chairperson Kahi Indimuli said he was yet to get any complaints from parents, but noted the practice must get approval from the ministry. “I do not have credible details on this but if such cases do exist they should not peg it on Form One admission because it frustrates the 100 per cent transition efforts,” said Indimuli.

Principals who spoke in confidence, however, argued that repairs and maintenance vote head was not adequate to expand spaces for the surging student numbers.

“The only time schools can get money is when new parents are admitting their children to schools. After that it is difficult to get them to chip in given that government funding is minimal,” said a principal in Eastern region.

He said schools were overstretched with little money to improve infrastructure and noted that repair and maintenance funds were inadequate.

In their 2019 report that pushed for increase in fees, secondary school heads said the government does not fund up to five items under the repairs and maintenance vote head.

They said fumigation, replacing of windowpanes, kitchen and laboratory repairs, replacement of asbestos roofing and ramps, rails, and pavements are not funded.

In the report, the school heads said the Sh5,846 paid by the government only caters for the repair of desks and chairs, renovations and alterations, brooms/drainage rods, costs for plumber, carpenter, masonry, and ground maintenance such as fences and hedges.

The National Parents Association yesterday cautioned parents to be wary of the hidden plans by management of schools and asked them to reject any additional charges not approved through genuine consensus.

“We know these schemes and we want parents to fully participate in these meetings to ensure they only allow what is agreed through consensus. No additional levies shall be charged on parents because they have been outlawed,” said Nicholas Maiyo, the association chairman.

Jwan said the ministry will not tolerate any additional funds levied on parents.

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