Parents race to admit their children to Form 1 amid huge admission cost

Parents race to admit their children to Form 1 amid huge admission cost

Parents are running helter skelter to have their children admitted to secondary schools for the first time.

Initially the Form ones were scheduled to report on May 3rd but due to the date being gazetted as a public holiday it was not possible.

The government had set Tuesday 3rd April 2022 to be a public holiday to mark the end of the holy month of Ramadhan.

The new reporting date was revised and set to 4th May 2022.

However parents have the burden to do shopping before paying fees for their children to be accepted to start Form 1 learning.

Most parents have lamented to the high cost of items required to have their children admitted.

Despite Education CS George Magoha pleading with Principals to be considerate and stop overburdening parents with unnecessary items, some have used the opportunity to mint cash from the parents.

During the release of KCPE results, Magoha warned school Principals against exploiting parents during the exercise.

“To avoid overburdening parents, I direct principals to stop listing unnecessary items,” Prof Magoha said.

The CS also directed principals to admit all students allocated to their institutions, including those who have not paid full school fees.

“The idea is to admit a Kenyan child into a Kenyan public school. At the same time, principals should exercise caution while listing the requirements for Form one students as part of the measures to reduce the cost of education,” said Magoha.

In addition the CS also listed some items which parents shouldn’t buy during form one admission exercise.

Some of the items managements of secondary schools have been demanding from students on admission and which Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha said are unnecessary include exercise books, class readers, novels, photocopying papers, foolscaps, atlases, mathematical tables, hockey sticks, pangasjembes slashers and hand brushes, among others.

Some secondary schools have been locking out students who do not have some of the listed items. But according to the CS, some of these items, including exercise books, are listed as mandatory but are provided for by the government.

“As a ministry, we are committed to ensure parents and guardians with learners joining Form one are not overburdened with unnecessary requirements that increase the cost of education,” said Magoha.

“Stern action will be taken against school heads who deny learners the opportunity to further their education. I am instructing schools to fully adhere to fees guidelines,” he said.

He added: “Do not block children from going to the school. Let us give every child an opportunity to learn. Some of us would never have gone to school if we were treated that way.”

Magoha asked parents to only pay fees set by the ministry and to report to the nearest education office any cases where a student is turned away for not paying the extra fees some school heads charge or the other levies.

Magoha, at the same time, challenged parents and guardians to take their obligations seriously by ensuring prompt payment of school fees in boarding schools.

“I urge members of the public to report any cases of learners who fail to join Form One. We will mount a nationwide monitoring exercise to ensure Form One students join the schools they were selected to and that fee guidelines are strictly adhered to,”  said the CS. 

When secondary school heads met in a conference in Mombasa they proposed an increase in secondary school fees for both day scholars and boarders.

In a memorandum to the Ministry of Education, the school heads have proposed that fees paid by students in boarding secondary schools be increased by Sh8,000 and government capitation raised to about Sh30,000 from the current Sh22,244 allocated per learner annually.

“Schools are unable to pay suppliers, non-teaching staff and even buy foodstuff to maintain the students. If we get this additional funding, principals will be able to run schools more efficiently,” said the Kessha chair Kahi Indimuli.

According to the Ministry of Education fees guidelines, students in national and extra-county schools in selected towns should this year charge Sh45,000 while those in extra-county schools are required to pay Sh35,000. 

The fees were reduced last year as part of the measures to cushion parents from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Initially, students in national schools paid Sh53,554 per year, Sh40,535 for extra-county schools while those in special needs secondary schools paid Sh12,790.

Mr Kahi Indimuli, who is Kessha chairman, said management of schools had been complicated by the new funding model where money is sent to schools in four tranches following the reorganised school calendar. Further, Mr Indimuli asked the Ministry of Education to set up an exclusive kitty to fund infrastructure development.

“A large amount of the Sh22,244 per student is retained at the ministry to purchase textbooks and [pay for] the students’ medical cover. Some Sh5,000 is allocated for infrastructure development and the heads end up receiving very little money to run schools,” he explained.

While moving the fees increment motion, Kabianga Boys High School Chief Principal Joash Aloo said some parents were not playing their role in fees payment.

“Parents must realise that we don’t live in utopia. The inflation in the country has affected the cost of many items including food and if their children have to be maintained in a boarding school, then they must pay for the services offered. To run schools effectively, we need more funding,” said Dr Oloo.

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