Lunch fee is voluntary and Permission to charge it, Ministry Warns Heads

Lunch fee is voluntary and Permission to charge it, Ministry Warns Heads

The ministry of education has ordered all high school principals who have overcharged their students to refund the extra fees.

The ministry was reacting to cries of desperate parents who complained of being exploited by a section of principals. Through a circular copied to all principals, the Ministry of Education, high schools heads have been directed to refund extra fees they charged parents against the set guidelines, which were also part of the circular.

According to Basic Education PS Jwan Julius, most parents paid extra money and should be refunded. “Any fees collected above the revised guidelines be refunded or treated as prepayment of fees for continuing students,” said Jwan.

Jwan also maintained that all extra levies charged on parents against the fees guidelines must be refunded to the parents.

Jwan also said that the entire management of secondary schools found to have breached school fees guidelines shall be punished in the new move to cushion parents.

Citing the Basic Education Regulations 2015, section 44, 45 and 46 on free and compulsory education, Jwan said individual members of schools Board of Management (BOM) will be punished for charging additional levies and high fees.

“The members of the Board of Management of an institution which contravenes regulation 44 or 45 shall jointly and severely be guilty of an offence under the Act,” said Jwan.

The PS confirmed that the Ministry has received numerous complaints from parents, sponsors of needy students and the general public regarding schools charging illegal levies.

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His concerns were echoed by the Parents association chair Nicholas Maiyo who said that most schools have introduced some hidden illegal costs in their fees which they are demanding from parents. “Some of these monies are not even receipted. They call them all sorts of names and parents are coerced to pay this money.”

Reports at the Ministry of Education show that 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,” said Jwan.

The PS also says that the lunch fees should be made optional based on prevailing circumstances. “Where lunch programme is in place, the same should be made optional and be reasonable taking into consideration the reduced term or academic year.”

“All the County and sub-County Directors of Education are directed to report to the Principal Secretary any Board of Management whose institution is charging illegal levies with immediate effect,” said Jwan.

The PS also directed that any school that desires to charge amounts above the stipulated fees must make a formal request to the Cabinet Secretary and will only do so after written authorisation has been granted.

“No child will be sent away for non-payment of such fees. Schools must display their fees structure on their notice boards,” he said.

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