Dr Matiang’i said that while the government had waived fees for day schools, some institutions were charging parents extra in the form of activity or lunch fees, a move he said went against government policy.
The extra levies charged in some of the day schools had affected the reporting of Form One students, with areas like the Coast being the most affected. The CS extended the reporting date in the affected schools by a week.
In the new fees structure, all students in day secondary school are entitled to a Sh22,240 capitation from the government.
“Fee guidelines must be adhered to without exceptions. Parents are advised to only pay the amount in the fee structure and report incidences of any student being turned away for not paying higher fees,” said Dr Matiang’i. “It is unfortunate that some schools in the Coast like Kwale and Malindi secondary schools, with capacities of over 200 Form One positions, had less than 100 students who have reported.”
And yesterday, mixed reactions from principals and unionists across the country greeted the directive on the painting of school buses.
Many principals in Nakuru and Nyandarua said the decision was “untimely and uncalled for”. They complained that they were operating on a tight budget due to increased admission of Form One students.
“The maintenance budgets for our two buses is normally done in April and it would be impossible for us to use another vote head to just paint a bus,” said a Deputy Principal in Njoro sub-county. Another principal in Nakuru Town said it would cost the school more than Sh100,000 to pain its 62-seater bus.
“If the government was truly interested with the safety of the students it should have set aside money for such an undertaking,” said the principal who requested not to be identified.
Another principal in Nyandarua said such increased spending should have been factored in the ministry’s budget. In Rongai Sub-County, a senior principal who was posted to a new school said the institution has more urgent needs.
While supporting the move, principals in Kisii said they will have to assemble their respective boards of management to look for ways to raise the money for the buses to be repainted.
Itierio Boys High School Principal Isaac Okeyo said it will cost approximately Sh275,000 to comply with the transport safety regulations. Despite the money challenge, he said, the school will comply by the end of next week.
“The money is not within our budget and we will have to look for means to have our two buses painted as per the regulations,” said Nyabururu High School Principal Joyce Orioki. In West Pokot, the area secondary schools headteachers chairperson Jonathan Siwanyang urged the ministry to give schools more time.
And while welcoming the changes, Kakamega School principal Gerald Orina said: “The cost of repainting a small car is about Sh60,000. For the buses, the cost will be much higher and we have no idea where the money will come from.”
The Knut Kakamega County chairman Patrick Chungani described Mr Matiang’i’s statement as unacceptable.
“The string of rules and directives issued by CS Matiang’i on school transport amounts to interference in running of the schools. He needs to consult widely on the issue,” said Mr Chungani.
In Kisumu, the local Kuppet leader Zablon Awange called on Dr Matiang’i to extend the painting time by at least six months. He accused the CS of creating confusion by issuing numerous directives without consulting stakeholders in the education sector.
Mr Awange, who called for the appointment of a substantive CS in the ministry, pointed out that the order will have serious financial implications on cash-strapped schools.
“An avalanche of directives is causing confusion in the education sector as teachers don’t know what to prioritise. There is no crisis to warrant buses to be painted yellow by March 30,” he said.
Additional reporting by Francis Mureithi, Elgar Machuka, Oscar Kakai, Derrick Luvega, Benson Amadala, Henry Nyarora, Leopold Obi, Elisha Otieno and Victor Raballa.