Parents want government to slow on shift to eCitizen platform

President William Ruto is pushing for payment of all services through a single paybill. 

Parents have now want the government to issue clear guidelines on how they will use e-citizen to pay school fees.

The National Parents Association wants public participation to be done to sensitize teachers on the workings of the new fee payment plan.

They also want issues around the cost of transactions and how the platform will support parents who pay fees in kind.

On Friday, Silas Obuhatsa, the national chairman of Parents Association, said the government made the decision without parents’ consent.

 “This directive has been issued without involving the main players in the sector, the parents, teachers and school administrators. Schools and householders have unique challenges which were not considered,” Obuhatsa said.

He further said parents would be forced to incur more costs in transacting if the e-citizen system is adopted adding that the service charge will come as an extra burden to the parents.

“When a parent pays fees through banks, he or she does not incur charges. When it comes to these, you have to have extra as a transaction fee. I want the government to rescind its decision,” he said.

Obuhatsa wondered how the government will find a common ground to monetize fees paid by parents in kind saying this will disadvantage the vulnerable households.

 “Some of our parents’ work in school and their services are bartered to school fees. Others provide cereals directly to school which is translated into fees. It means such families will be locked out of the system?” he said.

He was speaking in Nairobi on Friday accompanied by the association's Chief Executive Officer.

The two were reacting to a recent directive by the government to schools to implement payment of school fees through an electronic platform known as e-citizen.

The parents argued that payment through e-Citizen will derail education of learners in villages which are not accessible to the services.

. Obuhatsa faulted the move to adopt the centralized payment service saying most schools in rural areas are not connected to the electricity grid or have reliable internet.

 “I want the government to consider areas like Baringo, Turkana and some remote villages where there is no internet connectivity. This will compound the challenges parents and guardians will have to make online payments,” he said.

Obuhatsa said even if the association is not against the government move to bring efficiency in the management of public funds, there are better ways to do it.

“Not every parent is comfortable with the digital movement the government is taking us through. Let’s begin with the higher learning institutions and roll it down systematically, the government should first address the challenge of digital literacy especially in marginalized areas,” he said.

On his part, The Chief Executive Officer, NPA George Sikulu faulted the move saying school administrators will face hard time to run the institutions with the delayed disbursement of funds.

“I pity the schools. How will schools procure cereals and other services for the wellbeing of learners? We have always experienced delays and underfunding in schools which has forced schools into huge debts with suppliers,” Sikulu said.

If the government cannot disburse the funds in time, the new system is likely to face the same challenge causing a financial crisis in schools.”

This comes two weeks in wake of a circular issued by Dr Belio Kipsang urging parents to pay fees through a government centralized system of e-citizen.

The PS said the move is aimed at addressing financial governance.

“As part of compliance with the requirement it’s directed that parents and or guardians make fee payments for their learners in your institutions through this platform,” read the circular in part.

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