School Heads Risk Losing Jobs As Parents Invite EACC Over Fee Hike Crisis.
In secondary schools, where defiant principals continue to charge exorbitant fees while ignoring government guidelines, impunity reigns.
As a result, disgruntled parents are now directly reporting errant principals who violate fee guidelines to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, raising concerns about the competence of Ministry of Education field officers.
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According to a circular sent to Regional Directors of Education and County Directors of Education, some principals have continued to disregard Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha's fees directive.
In a circular dated September 21, Basic Education Principal Secretary Jwan Julius exposes the lengths to which some principals have gone to circumvent school fee guidelines.
“It has been reported that some schools have shrewdly treated parents, guardians and sponsors by hiding illegal levies collections under the guise of pocket or transport money using class teachers while others use parents class representatives,” said Jwan.
The PS stated that some parents are now directing their fee complaints directly to EACC and has instructed ministry staff to be on the lookout.
The government reduced this year's fees by up to Sh8,500, citing the effects of Covid-19, which shortened the academic year by nine weeks.
The directive was followed by a circular dated June 16 that directed parents of students enrolled in national and extra-county schools in major towns to pay a maximum yearly fee of Sh45,000. Previously, parents in these schools had to pay up to Sh54,000.
The circular also stated that parents with students in county and sub-county secondary schools would be required to pay a maximum annual fee of Sh35,000.
Parents whose children attend special needs schools were set to pay a maximum of Sh10,860 per year.
The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) Macharia also directed school heads to stick to the stipulated school fees and avoid burdening parents with unnecessary levies.
CEO Nancy Macharia warned that it will punish school heads flouting fees guidelines as the commission carries out more investigations.
If found guilty, school heads and principals face dismissal and prosecution by the EACC on corruption charges. PS Jwan reiterated that school administrators and principals must follow Ministry of Education regulations.
Dr. Jwan revealed that some schools have continued to charge illegal levies in the guise of pocket or transportation money through the use of class teachers.
In some schools, principals allow parents' class representatives to announce the illegal fees and request payment via M-Pesa and other non-official accounts.
“It is reiterated that money paid to schools must be receipted and spent in compliance with the Public Finance Management Act,” he said.
Sections 44 and 45 of the Basic Education Regulations 2015 state that no public school or institution may charge fees other than those approved by the Cabinet Secretary.
Nakuru High School Principal was also interdicted by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) for flouting the Ministry of Education's school fees guidelines and charging extra levies.
Nakuru County TSC Director Fredrick Ng'ang'a in a letter sought to understand why Mr Yator charged extra school fees against the Basic Education Act, Section 29.
"It is alleged that you charged extra levies to students in the years 2020 and 2021 contrary to the Basic Education Act, Section 29 while you were the Principal Nakuru Boys High School. Consequently you are hereby interdicted with effect from September 1, 2021,” read the letter
The principal, Mr Yator was given 21 days to defend himself before TSC in writing. He will also be given an opportunity to defend himself in person before the commission.
TSC also directed him to report to the nearest sub-county education office at least once a month during the interdiction period. He was accused by parents in 2020 of illegally hiking remedial fees from by ksh.5000 per term.
More than 200 secondary school principals are set for disciplinary action by TSC for charging extra fees against the Ministry of Education directive.
TSC issued cause letters to the school principals seeking an explanation as to why action should not be taken against them for overcharging parents despite a warning from the employer that schools should stick to the laid rules.
The letters which target principals who have continuously employed schemes to siphon millions from unsuspecting parents has caused panic across the affected institutions.
TSC bossNancy Macharia had forewarned headteachers before the opening of schools that those flouting fees guidelines will not go unpunished.
Macharia said that the commission was investigating some principals listed to have breached the guidelines.
“I direct that all heads of schools stick to stipulated school fees and avoid loading parents with unnecessary levies,” Dr Macharia said as schools opened.
However, principals ignored the guidelines and warnings from TSC as soon as the new academic year began. It was reported that some schools released fee structures that compelled parents to pay more than Sh53,000, despite reductions by the ministry.
Director of Secondary Education Paul Kibet however said extra money collected above the revised guidelines be refunded or treated as prepayment of fees for continuing students. Kibet further warned that any unreported cases of a school charging illegal levies will draw sanctions on the responsible officer.
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