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Stop principals levying illicit school levies

by kenya-tribune

As Form One students start the new phase of their academic life this week, parents are not having it easy. Besides raising school fees, they also must dig deeper into their pockets to cater for other needs.

The Grade Six graduates are also preparing for the beginning of junior secondary school (JSS).

The JSS transition will happen in primary schools, easing the challenge for young learners. Also, the recruitment of 30,000 teachers is ongoing and, hopefully, training of the new ones and the incumbents in the new Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC).

But it is disappointing to note that some principals are taking advantage of the parents’ plight to charge illegal fees and other levies. This problem has persisted for years. To avoid scrutiny, the greedy principals and other teachers often disguise the illicit charges as “motivation fees” or give them other names.

The parents from whom the extra levies are being extorted are not exempt from the high cost of living that has made the lives of most Kenyans miserable. Since education is for many the surest way to secure young people’s future well-being, parents often give in to the demands by rogue principals.

Although the constituency and county bursaries ease the parents’ agony, there are many would-be beneficiaries who are denied the assistance. Auditor-General Nancy Gathungu has blown the whistle on the theft or misuse of the bursaries amounting to Sh1.2 billion. Some students get more than they need while others receive nothing.

The Ministry of Education must enforce its fee guidelines and ensure that principals adhere to them. Parents have appealed to the government to take stern action against principals imposing extra fees and other levies.

Some have been asked to pay Sh6,000 for teachers’ motivation and another Sh5,000 for remedial lessons. Students who fail to pay are sent home until they comply with this illegal requirement. They end up paying up to Sh20,000 besides the official fees, which, for national and extra-county schools, is nearly Sh50,000.

The Education Ministry should crack down on crooked principals and their accomplices.

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