Kenya: Tana River Principals on the Spot for Hiking Fees

13 October 2021

Parents in Tana River County have raised concerns over inflated school fees as a new term begins.

In Galole constituency, parents have decried exorbitant fees and fee balances that contradict the initial fee structure issued to them.

They said some schools sent students home with letters demanding outrageous fee balances.

This is despite a public commitment by the area MP that education would be free for students in schools in the sub-county, courtesy of the National Government-Constituency Development Fund.

"My son has a fee balance of Sh30,000 and yet this is just his second term in Form One. I thought the fees were paid by the NG-CDF as the MP had promised," says Said Mohammed.

His son's school, he said, had demanded that tuition fees be cleared before the boy could be allowed school.

He said he could not raise the balance and his son may have to stay out of school for the rest of the term.

"I don't know where to start. The farms did not do well and the drought is here with us. I will have to sacrifice his education so that we can live," he said.

Mariam Jilo, a parent with a student at Mau Mau Memorial Girls, also noted that the school had brought up more charges and demands.

She said the extra burden was not foreseen and her child may have to wait until she can get the money.

"We were relieved when the burden was taken from us, but it appears principals have other cards at play that we as parents can't understand," she said.

The situation is the same in Tana Delta and Bura constituency where parents are contemplating pulling their children from school for the term to find school fees.

The most affected are Form One students, who have been asked to ensure they have no balances.

Galole MP Said Hiribae has dismissed the exorbitant charges, calling them fraudulent.

He said some school principals have become greedy and are illegally coming up with programmes to extort an extra coin from parents.

"I have paid school fees in full, both for students in day schools and boarding schools in this constituency. Any other charges the schools come up with are fraudulent and should be treated as so," he said.

He noted that he is a member of all school boards, and principals had not communicated to him or consulted him regarding any increases.

Some school boards, he said, have come up with remedial fees, teacher motivation fees and other programmes he described as schemes to steal from poor parents.

"We understand the parent in Tana River County. We have taken their burden and all that we are paying for is within the law and the Ministry of Education guidelines. Any other programme is illegal and we shall challenge it," he said.

Mr Hiribae urged parents to take their children to school and forward any complaints regarding extra fees to his office for redress.

Tana River Director of Education James Nyagah has described the extra fees as unfortunate, noting that the office will investigate the concerns raised and take action.

Meanwhile, bursaries worth more than Sh20 million have been disbursed to respective schools in Galole constituency to clear pending fee balances.

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