Form One students began reporting to school yesterday, amid complaints that parents were being required to pay high fees for a panoply of school items. This despite the government issuing the very elaborate "Guidelines for the Implementation of Free Secondary Education in 2017".
It has become an annual routine: The ministry sets the limits and the schools exceed them.
This trend calls for stricter monitoring of the regulations and fees secondary schools are charging parents.
Many schools are still charging fees for equipment, cutlery, bedding, development, and trips that have not yet been made — and even desks.
Not surprisingly, some schools have made it mandatory that these items be bought from the school even when parents can make a saving by sourcing cheaply from outside.
Are some principals colluding with suppliers to make a killing? Some of the charges are demonstrably unfair, if not illegal altogether. Notably, the fees being charged vary considerably between national and extra-county schools as well as within the same category. The ministry must urgently harmonise policy and implementation to protect hapless parents from undue exploitation.