Reprieve for students with arrears

By: DENNIS ODUNGA

Headteachers will no longer choose to comply with or ignore government directives to release certificates to students who have not cleared fees, if a Bill before the Senate becomes law.

Certificates for primary and secondary schools will also bear candidates’ photographs, according to the Kenya National Examinations Council (Amendment) Bill.

Embossing candidates’ photographs on the certificates is aimed at facilitating identification and submission of the documents to students by the district officers.

The lawmakers said school managements should find alternative ways to make parents pay fees without necessarily punishing the candidates.

Kitui Senator David Musila, who sponsored the Bill, observed that every person has a right to education and denying students certificates because they cannot raise fees amounts to discriminating against the poor.

“The right to education includes the right to issuance of a certificate as evidence of such education,” states the Bill.

Mr Musila said school administrators have been reluctant to obey the law and a government directive requiring them to release certificates.

“It is illegal for the certificates to be held as collateral until parents pay fees. The obligation to pay school fees falls on a parent, with whom the school enters a contractual obligation to pay the fees, and not a child,” said Mr Musila.

CONRADICTORY LAWS

There has been uncertainty over how headteachers should handle students with outstanding fees because of contradictory laws.

Headteachers, Mr Musila said, fear being held responsible for funds that are not collected in outstanding fees if they release the documents.

The Teachers Service Commission code for regulations warns teachers against not collecting any money due to the government.

There are fears school activities may be grounded if they don’t collect the colossal amounts of money the candidates owe them.

Free primary education and subsidised secondary education only cover tuition and related services. Parents pay for meals and boarding.

The government is now paying national examination fees for all candidates.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION