Cash strapped schools send thousands of learners back home for fees

Thousands of learners have been sent home for non-payment of fees, a few days after schools opened for Third Term last week.

School principals said that the institutions are cash-strapped, even as the government said it had released capitation funds.

Schools opened last week after a one-week holiday but a number of students across the country have been spotted on their way back home from as early as last week. This is likely to affect preparations for national examinations that will begin next month for candidate classes.

Many parents complain that some school managers are insensitive to their plight in demanding full payment of fees, which goes against earlier government directives against sending students home for fees. A spot check showed that the affected students are from both day and boarding schools.

Mr Patrick Okwero, a parent from Butula in Busia County, said his two daughters at Lwanya Girls Secondary and another at Sirikhaya Secondary had been sent home over fee balances. He said he tried in vain to explain to the school management to give him more time to raise the money.

Mr Patrick Chimwene, who has two children at St Romano’s Matawa Secondary School asked schools to consider the time lost when learners were at home and keep them in school.

“Normal terms run up to three months and that is how we paid Sh7,000 for day scholars and Sh35,000 in boarding schools. But when a term lasts for fewer weeks, schools shouldn’t push us so much to clear fees for the full term,” he said.

At least 500 Form Two students at Chavakali Boys in Vihiga County were released from school over fee balances that have accrued since the start of the year. The management is considering sending away students in the other classes, saying it is becoming impossible to keep them in school.

At Sane Girls Secondary School in Tana River County, not even candidates were spared; all students with fee balances were sent back on the day they reported.

Kakamega School Principal Gerald Orina said he had persuaded parents to pay fees by second term for Form Four students to avoid disrupting their preparations for the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams. “But we’re planning to send home those who have not paid their fees by Friday,” he said.

Early Learning and Basic Education Principal Secretary Julius Jwan said that the money had been released although it had not hit school accounts by yesterday.

“The money was dispatched to schools on Friday last week. The delay is because of the weekend and banks’ internal processes,” Dr Jwan said. He revealed that Sh16.3 billion was sent to secondary schools and Sh1.37 billion to primary schools.

“If they (principals) have challenges, let them call parents and agree on a payment plan,” he said.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a principal of one of the top schools in Meru said: “There is no money and parents have been used to being told learners should not be sent home, but their children must eat. What are we going to feed them on?” he asked.

A principal from a secondary school in Busia said parents had accumulated arrears in excess of Sh6 million.

In Tharaka-Nithi some of the schools that have sent home students include Tharaka Boys, Chogoria Boys and Chuka Girls.

Kenya National Union of Teachers branch executive secretary Njeru Mutani said keeping students in school without enough food could lead to strikes.

In Nyeri County, students from various schools were seen at the matatu terminus on Friday and yesterday after being sent home for school fees.

A number of schools in Kericho and Bomet counties said they have only held back plans to send learners home for fees for fear of reprisals from the government.

Mr Paul Mwaniki, the principal of Igumori Secondary School in Embu County, said he had not sent home any student because “I doubt there’s a parent who can send a child to school without fees but retain the money at home.”

A principal of an extra-county school in Kisii County accused some parents of taking advantage of the directive not to send students home.

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