Kenya: School Heads Asked to Refund Fees Paid for Second, Third Terms

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha has directed primary and secondary school heads to refund or give credit notes to parents who had paid the 2020 academic year fees in advance.

The order - which applies to second and third term fees and not the unutilised fee for the remainder of first term after learning was disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic in March - came a day after the minister declared 2020 a lost academic year.

Prof Magoha said primary and secondary learners will go back to their classes in January 2021 and that no national examination will be held in 2020.

"Parents who had made the payments will get advance for next year when classes resume," Prof Magoha said when he met Coast principals of vocational and technical training institutions in Voi, Taita-Taveta County.

FIRST TERM FEES SPENT

"But let us be realistic. The first term school fees was already spent."

The announcement is a relief for parents who had paid fees for the entire year, especially those with children in expensive private schools.

Some private schools refused to refund fees paid in first term, even after parents went to court protesting against the change of the learning model to online.

Contacted Wednesday, primary and secondary schools heads said they would not refund the fee in cash.

Teachers' unions said the extra fees paid would be carried forward to the new year once learning resumes.

FORWARD EXTRA AMOUNTS PAID

Kenya Secondary Heads Association chairman Kahi Indimuli said matters of fees should not create animosity between school administrators and parents.

"The ordinary practice has been schools forwarding extra amounts paid to the new term. The money can only be refunded when a student completes school or transfers," he said.

"Schools expect learning to resume in January."

Mr Indimuli added that it should not be assumed that schools have zero expenditure because just because learners are at home.

"The institutions still have bills. They need to pay the subordinate staff and settle electricity, water and other bills. Everything has to be maintained even when students are away," Mr Indimuli said.

AGREE WITH PARENTS

He added that cases of the few parents who had paid fees for the entire year would be addressed.

"We shall agree with the parents what percentage of the amount paid will be carried forward. Refunding fees is opening a pandora's box as that will result in unnecessary fights between school administrators and parents," he said.

Kenya Private Schools Association chief executive Peter Ndoro echoed Mr Indimuli's sentiments, saying schools are not in a position to refund second and third term fees.

"We appreciate the efforts of parents who settled fees for the whole year. The money will be transferred to the next academic year," Mr Ndoro said.

Kenya Parents Association chairman Nicholas Maiyo said there is no cause for worry.

"We shall have meetings with principals on how to handle the matter. We, however, propose that the fees be taken to next year," he told the Nation.

Parents interviewed said schools should consider forwarding the fees paid for second and third term to next year.

CLEARED FEES

Ms Mercy Mwende, a parent in Mwingi, Kitui County, said she cleared the 2020 fees for her Form One daughter.

"I don't expect to be told to pay fees next year. I, however, have no problem with the first term fees," Ms Mwende said.

Mr Fredrick Owino, a parent of a Form Four student at a boarding school in Siaya, said it is is sad to see his son wait to sit his Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination next year.

"I had already completed paying the fees but he now has to repeat the class. The school should use what we paid in the coming academic year," Mr Owino said.

TUITION FEES

Kenyans with children in public primary schools may not get much since the government pays tuition fees.

They only pay for meals and supplement development fees.

The government pays Sh22,244 annually for every student in secondary and Sh1,420 for a primary school pupil.

Some 50 per cent of State funding is released in first term, 30 per cent in second term and another 30 per cent in the final term.

In the 2019/20 financial year, the government set aside Sh55.4 billion for free day secondary education and Sh13.4 billion for free primary learning.

The Ministry of Education further allocated Sh1.5 billion for schools' infrastructure development. In January, the ministry released Sh32.5 billion to schools as funding for first term.

In the 2020/21 financial year budget, the ministry was given Sh497.5 billion, of which Sh59.4 billion went to free secondary learning as free primary education took Sh12.4 billion.

An additional Sh2.1 billion is expected to be used in building additional classrooms for secondary schools.

Prof Magoha announced on Tuesday that the 2020 school calendar has been cancelled, adding that learners would repeat classes in 2021.

The decision came after a consultative meeting the Cabinet secretary held with education stakeholders following the Covid-19 pandemic.

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