At least 200 secondary school principals face disciplinary action for charging higher fees against a government directive. At the same time, some primary school heads across three counties have been asked to explain the poor performance of learners in their schools based on the national examination results.
The Standard has established that secondary school principals have received letters to explain why action should not be taken against them for overcharging parents.
And for the primary school heads, the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) wants them to explain strategies they have adopted to improve performance in their schools after a poor show in national exams.
As a result of the letters targeting principals who covertly minted millions from unsuspecting parents, panic has now spread in affected institutions.
TSC CEO Nancy Macharia had cautioned the headteachers just before schools opened that those flouting fees guidelines would be punished. She said the commission was investigating some principals reported to have breached the fee 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, as soon as the new academic year started, it emerged that some of the heads released fee structures that required parents to pay up to Sh53,000, despite major reduction by the government.
The government reduced this year’s fees by up to Sh8,500, citing effects of Covid-19 that reduced the school calendar by nine weeks.
And in some cases, the heads mounted extra levies not permitted in the fees guidelines, pushing parental obligations beyond the stipulated amount of between Sh35,000 and Sh45,000. A June 16 circular by Basic Education PS Jwan Julius directed that parents with students in national and extra-county schools located in major towns pay a maximum yearly fees of Sh45,000.
This is inclusive of boarding fees pegged at Sh24,925 for this category of schools. Other levies parents are allowed to pay include maintenance and improvement funds at Sh2,000.
Levies parents are charged include a total of Sh17,267 to cover local travel and transport, administration cost and energy, water and conservation. And for parents with students in county and sub-county secondary schools, the government directed that they pay an annual maximum fees of Sh35,000.
This includes boarding fees of Sh20,830, maintenance and improvement fees of Sh2,000 and a total of Sh11,670 to cater for local travel and transport, administration cost, and energy, water and conservation. The government also ordered that parents whose children are in special needs schools would pay a maximum of Sh10,860 yearly.
Insiders at TSC, however, said investigations revealed most of the schools charged over and above the stipulated levies.
Some also loaded over charges already catered for by the government as activity fees. Some heads asked parents to pay such levies as motivation fees, examination fees, project money and trustees fund.
“A number of teachers have received show-cause letters and as investigations continue, many more will receive the letters,” said a senior TSC staff. In an August 9 circular, Jwan said some schools recover these levies upfront before crediting money paid as fees into the students’ fees accounts. “This makes students have false fees arrears, leading to them being sent home,” he said.
Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (Kessha) chairman Kahi Indimuli said he was not aware of any principals who have been issued with show-cause letters, saying it is a personal responsibility.
“Principals who have flouted government directives will carry their own cross because this was communicated to them and they should have made necessary adjustments,” said Indimuli.