Parents have protested a new demand by principals that all Form 1 items be bought at school.
Most secondary schools in their calling letters to those joining Form 1 have asked parents not to buy any listed items outside the schools.
Instead, they want the parents to come with cash and pay for the commodities in school.
Parents say they have gone beyond their mandate and that the Ministry of Education needs to intervene.
National Parents Association chairperson Nicholas Maiyo faulted school heads for what he termed as money minting means.
Maiyo said principals are overstepping their mandate and should stop exploiting parents.
“We see this is business which principals are doing with our children and the ministry should look into it,” Maiyo said..
The parents’ representatives inquired where the profit acquired by schools is taken.
“So we are asking the authorities where does the profit go, does it go to the school account?” he posed.
“Imagine a school charging Sh1,100 for a trouser that costs Sh950 in the market, and the Sh100 profit is collected from several items.”
This amounts to at least Sh1,200 per student for all items, he said.
He gave an example of a school with 2,300 students, each students gives the school a profit of Sh1,200 from different items.
“They always insist on us paying 100 per cent school fees yet they get money through dubious items that are school uniforms, items,” Maiyo said.
Kenya Secondary Schools Association chairperson Indimuli Kahi backed the move saying it will ease movement for parents using public means.
Kahi, however, had his reservations and urged school principals not to overcharge the items.
“It depends on the school, so long as the cost is not beyond market price, it will also ease parents travelling with all those things,” Kahi told the Star.
The Machakos Boys School principal reminded school heads about the agreement they had during their meeting in Mombasa.
He urged his colleagues to be lenient on the demands made as the almost 1.2 million learners are expected in school next week.
“In Mombasa we agreed we need to look at our calling letters and remove any barriers that might make it difficult for a child to come to school,” Kahi added.
The uproar by parents is occasioned by schools asking parents to purchase all items required in school.
This means parents will pay cash money to school to cater for beddings, uniforms, essentials like soap, buckets, basins and even towels.
Parents, together with their learners will only report to school carrying money enough to buy items.
A shopping list seen by the Star indicated prices of items to be paid for by parents, alongside the number required.
“The items to be purchased at school on the admission day for uniformity and quality are priced. The school will organise with stockists to avail the items,” the letter reads.
A parent from an extra county school in Siaya said the items can be found at a cheaper price elsewhere, apart from the school.
“They should give us an option to decide where to buy those items. Some of us sell those items so we could just pick them and give our children,” the parent said.
Another parent from Nakuru county is also expected to report on Wednesday carrying nothing, but money only.
The calling letter specified items, their number, and pricing for each, followed by a stern warning to the parents.
“The school does not allow an assortment of items other than those issued by the school,” the letter reads.
A school principal from Kakamega county defended the move saying this will allow uniformity of items in school.
The principal who sought anonymity said it will also allow students to be at the same level.
“Some students come with expensive things while others from low-income households come with basic items and this gives us problems,” she said.
More than 1.2 million students are expected to be enrolled starting May 4 to May 10.
The Ministry of Education officially opened the portal for applications for the Elimu Scholarship which will be concluded on May 6.
The scholarships will be given to 9,000 beneficiaries, among them 4,000 from the slums.
Orphans, students with special needs who attained below 280 marks might be considered.
The scholarship caters for transport to and from school, school fees, school kit, and pocket money for four years.
Source: The Star