Parents deplore costly learning as schools open for Term One

Families with children joining Junior Secondary schools say fees have doubled.

In Summary
  • Parents say the 8-4-4 system being phased out, was quite affordable compared to the Competency Based Curriculum,  replacing it.
  • Parents said private schools have taken advantage of the chaos in the transition to Junior Secondary School to double their fees.
Parents buy textbooks in Mombasa CBD.
Parents buy textbooks in Mombasa CBD.

Parents have raised concern, and some have expressed anguish, over high school fees and stationery as children go back to school for the first term of 2023.

A number of parents interviewed by the Star have called upon the national government to help provide books in schools and ensure disbursement of NG-CDF monies on time to ease the fees’ burden.

Charles Obado,  a parent with four children in Grade 5 and Grade 7, secondary school and one in university, said the cost of education is "unbearable".

“Right now, we are having a very hard time taking our children back to school, and we do not know if we will make it because of the high school fees and prices of books,” he said.

Obado, who owns a hardware shop in Mombasa, said business has also declined because of the high cost of living.

“Business has also been so down, most contractors have stopped building as they focus on taking their children to school first. This situation means our hardware business has also been affected due to poor sales,” Obado said.

Obado said the 8-4-4 system, which is being phased out, was quite affordable compared to the Competency Based Curriculum which is being implemented.

Parents of children joining Junior Secondary School (Grade 7) are being asked to pay more.

“Things have really changed, initially we used to have time to prepare ourselves because the children used to go up to Class eight,” he said.

“In my case, my child  is supposed to join Junior Secondary school and the fees I am supposed to pay are no different from those for my other child in secondary school.”

Jane Msibega, a mother of two whose firstborn son is supposed to join the Junior Secondary school, said the fees in their school have doubled.

She said initially the Class 7 pupils where her children learn, used to pay about Sh12, 000, but the amount is now about Sh22,000 per term.

“The situation is hard, life has become so expensive. Fees have been doubled, yet I’m supposed to buy new school uniforms and books,” Msibega said.

Last week, during the release of the KCSE examination, Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu said the government will pay school fees for all students who are supposed to join public Junior Secondary schools.

However, parents said the private schools have taken advantage of chaos in the transition to Junior Secondary School to double the fees.

Parent Vera Hasande said when CBC began, they used different books from those they must buy now. That means a child who is joining Grade 3 cannot use the books which were used two years ago.

“Looking at the economy right now, it is really difficult for parents," she said."If you had a child who started with CBC and is in Grade Three, the other one who is starting the same journey cannot use the books the elder sibling used,” she said.

She said before parents used to keep textbooks for their children to use until they all finish their education.

"The syllabus is changing so rapidly. Before we used to have the same books used for quite a number of years, but right now the books we bought two years ago cannot be used,” she said.

She called upon the government to help in providing books in schools.

“Buy a textbook at Sh1,200 for a primary pupil and you are supposed to buy eight of them for two children is no joke. Additionally, you need to pay fees, uniform and stationeries,” she said.

Hasande said she also has other children in secondary school.

Geoffrey Musyoka, a fruit vendor, said children are supposed to go back to school, but life is hard.

“Life is very hard especially when it comes to school fees, getting even food to put on the table has become a problem and now the children need school fees. We are struggling because the cost of living is high,” he said.

He called upon the government to reduce the price of food.

He also asked the national government to fully fund education.

(Edited by V. Graham)

WATCH: The latest videos from the Star