Schools to suffer under the gazzeted fee guidelines

The Siaya County Kenya Secondary Schools Head Association (KESSHA) leadership has faulted the government for misleading parents on the gazetted school fees guidelines terming the payments as detrimental to the smooth running of schools.

The heads led by their chairman Vincent Odhiambo outlined a myriad of challenges that the schools management have to contend with if the gazetted fees are to be adhered to.

A task force set up by the Ministry of Education to review the secondary school fees recommended that parents should pay sh53, 340 for boarding secondary schools, sh9, 374 for day secondary schools and sh31, 210 to parents with children in special schools per year.

Mr.Odhiambo who is also the principal of Chianda High School in Rarieda Sub County regretted that the guidelines do not factor in key developmental projects including infrastructure but however stated that the head teachers are not opposed to the set secondary fees but they will be forced to engage parents and stakeholders to ensure that these are realised.

“As secondary school principals we do not oppose the Ministry fee directive, we feel that the funds are enough to run our schools but these figures do not factor other very important programmes that are important for the smooth running of learning,” said Odhiambo.

Odhiambo noted that the challenges that other schools especially those established in the rural setups are many because some have two classrooms without even a laboratory or an office.

“You will realise that most of our schools had started constructing learning infrastructure like classrooms, laboratories and dormitories. How do we expect that these projects will be completed with the guideline that does not factor these?” questioned the chairman.

Odhiambo who was speaking to KNA at his office also revealed that most schools had secured bank loans that must be serviced quarterly to purchase school buses which are instrumental in educational trips and facilitating educational programmes and parents and stakeholders must help facilitate the servicing of the same loans.

The KESSHA chairman has on that note directed schools heads to ensure they consult widely with all stakeholders and have a debate on the same as opposed to adhering to the guidelines.

Speaking separately, the Rarieda sub county KESSHA chairman James Okoyo revealed that 75% of all schools in his region had been adversely affected by the fees guideline.

Okoyo who is the principal of Ramba Boys High School regretted that they have had challenges in hiring additional teachers to help fill the gap of the inadequate teachers noting that some schools in Rarieda Sub County only have one TSC teacher.

“Most of the schools are understaffed, some newly established day secondary schools have only the principal as a TSC employed teacher yet they have more students, where will teachers get funds for the service from if the parents don’t pay?” Okoyo wondered.

Okoyo for instance noted that Ramba Boys High School with a population of 1500 students have more than 30 Board of Management( BOM )employed teachers supported mutually by the parents and stated that if they have to contain them then parents must debate about it or else the services of the teachers be terminated.

He also regretted that if the directive is adhered to, it will also affect the lunch programmes in secondary schools that have seen more retention of students especially in rural day secondary schools where poverty has taken a toll.

“Lunch programmes in day secondary schools have helped keep learners in schools since some of them come from very poor families and we now see the advantages of eating in schools, we have more learners completing schools owing to the feeding programmes,” said Okoyo.

By Brian Ondeng

Source: Kenya News Agency