By Clive Olero
On school fee fiasco, the buck stops with the Ministry of Education CS Matiang’i.
As schools open haul continues this week, the burden of skyrocketting Secondary school fee continues to weigh heavier on parents threatening to break their generally weak economic muscles.
Someone might needlessly want to ask what I mean by ‘generally weak economic muscles.’ I answer them pronto: Here I refer to the burden on the hoi polloi.
Those who live from hand to mouth or those who– in kenyan parlance– we prefer to call Wanjiku.Just last weekend, we read from the dailies that Education Principal Secretary Dr Belio Kipsang’ has given a directive to County Directors of Education to provide him with a list of schools charging high fees.
An ultimutum which is meant to show the public that the Ministry of Education is determined to ensuring that parents of this country are not extorted in the name of school fee.
Truth is, there are principals, members of Boards of Management and of Parents Teachers Associations who have colluded to form dangerous cartels.
Through their high-handedness, they manage to impose high fees on parents. But for the government to pretend to want to be given a list of schools that charge high fees is defeatist to say the least.
Not that the government has not shown an attempt to solve the fee row over the years. It has. But it has been merely that– an attempt.
Totally devoid of any moral commitment. For how can the ministry convince anyone that they have been unable to catch up with the errant principals who steal from parents in broad daylight?
Of what use is that thing they call Fee Guidelines for Public Secondary Schools if each school head is free to modify their fee structures as they wish? Don’t we have legal provisions guiding school fee payment in this country?
Or is it that agelong kenyan national vice of impunity that has trickled down to to all corners of the country to haunt our education system? If the guidelines recommend that parents are supposed to pay Sh 53,554 for boarding schools, Sh 9,374 for day schools and Sh 37,210 for special-needs while the government provides a subsidy of 12,870, why should anyone be allowed to defy such a directive?
In the circular to county officials the PS Kipsang’ said that the directors are expected to see to it that school heads adhere to the recommended amounts and without the approval of the Cabinet Secretary.
What hogwash? Aren’t those county officials the same people who certify or condone the illegal fee increment?You cannot tell someone to take appropriate actions against self.
If you do, you can rest assured it will culminate in an embarrassing futility. Payments for unnecessary miscellaneous fee such as teacher motivation, county education levies, education improvement have been discontinued.
It takes transparency and resolve by the ministry to ensure all school heads abide by the rules. The buck stops with them. They should know (and I believe they do) what students pay in all schools across the country.
That they have not charged any principal and or member of BOM of any school serves to show that they have surrendered their legal obligation to doom. A tell-on audit by county directors is unnecessary.
It will give us the same old results.But no one should demonize all principals. It is the onus of principals to develop schools. Some have managed out of their own ingenious initiatives to improve infrastructure and produce good results.
If the national government borrows money to construct a few-kilometres road, why would we expect a teacher to build a dormitory and yet charge no one for part of its cost? And serious of all is the inadequacy of teaching staff in schools.
Schools cannot prepare candidates in a dire shortage of teachers. But the government does not want to bridge the deficit of over 100,000. So? Does a principal run a school with 2 TSC teachers? That can’t possibly be.
The principals by the mandate of Boards of Management have to find ‘makeups.’ The cost of which must be passed on to parents.Long story short, a bigger task awaits the Cabinet Secretary Dr Matiang’i.
He needs to find a way to harmonize all the factors. He either transforms our education system once and for all or…