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Citizen Weekly

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

FREE SECONDARY EDUCATION BY 2015



Headteachers will resist a proposal by a presidential team that parents pay fees for their children in public day secondary schools.
The team has also recommended that parents pay less than what boarding and other schools are currently asking for.
In a report presented to President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House, Nairobi, on Wednesday, the group proposes that a student in a boarding school — whether national, county or sub-county — pay a maximum of Sh38,969 while day scholars will pay a maximum of Sh11,105 a year.
Under the current system, education is free in public day secondary schools.
Special needs schools will charge Sh22,830 annually. The fees is higher because students in such schools require additional resources to enhance their movement, sight, hearing and speech.
The report, prepared by a panel chaired by former Higher Education assistant minister Kilemi Mwiria, has also proposed that the government spends Sh31,374 on each student in public secondary schools annually.
The allocation will cover, among others, the cost of buying teaching and learning materials, boarding, meals, local travel, electricity, water, repairs and maintenance, activity fees and personal emoluments.
Kenya has 2,144,069 secondary school students, meaning that the government will be required to raise an additional Sh52 billion each year for the education budget.
DISCUSSED FURTHER
Secondary Schools Heads Association chairman John Awiti said the report needed to be discussed further before implementation in view of the current inflation rate and the economic situation in the country.
“The recommendations of the fee are a bit unrealistic,” he said. “Given the economic situation and also factoring in the rate of inflation, there is a need to talk further about the fees proposed.”
Parents with children in his school — St Mary’s Yala — will meet on Saturday to discuss a new fee structure.
Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers chairman Omboko Milemba differed with the recommendations of the report and asked President Kenyatta to make day school completely free.
He said proposals such as introducing new taxes on items as airtime, fuel, among others, as suggested by the report amounted to overburdening the parents who are supposed to be relieved by the new measure.
“The better idea would be to tax the rich and educate the poor,” he said,
The Kenya Parents and Teachers Association welcomed the report.
“The recommendations of the report will offload the burden from parents,” said Mr Nathan Barasa, the head of the association.
However, Mr Musau Ndunda of National Association of Parents, said he was concerned about the implementation of the report.
“The recommendations though welcome have a huge financial implication on part of the government”, which is already struggling to disburse Free Secondary Education funds, Mr Ndunda said.
Dr Mwiria’s team has also recommended that teachers should put in more hours by taking up 27 lessons per week instead of the current 23.
If this happens, the report says, schools will save on the costs of employing board of management teachers.
President Kenyatta supported the report, but noted that to adopt it would involve “talks with the National Treasury and other stakeholders”.
Mr Lawrence Njagi of the Kenya Publishers Association also welcomed the proposal to increase allocation to students but said more needed to be done on audit “to ensure that the money was used for the intended purpose”.