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Govt to introduce mobile phone airtime levy

10 July 2014, 12:35 Samuel Kisika

Nairobi – The government plans to start taxing mobile phone airtime to facilitate the implementation of the proposed free secondary education in 2017.

A taskforce on education looking into secondary school fees, headed by former Education Assistant Minister, Kilemi Mwiria has proposed the taxation of fast-sold consumer products such as airtime, fare and fuel to enable the government to raise funds for free secondary education.

“We recommend the introduction of tax on airtime, fares and fuel as part of raising funds for free secondary school education,” the taskforce’s report states.

Mwiria’s taskforce has recommended the levy on high income generating businesses due to the huge profits generated by such businesses, such as the mobile phone operators that raise an annual revenue of about KES 200 billion while the oil business raises over KES 400 billion.

The introduction of free primary education in 2003 has seen pupil enrollment go up but most of them fail to proceed with secondary education due to lack of funds and high fees in some high schools.

Despite the government providing KES 10 265 grant to every student in secondary school and fixing affordable fees for parents, some school heads have been hiking fees leading to increased school-dropout rates.

Following exorbitant hiking of fees by some schools during the 2014 form-one admission, the Kenya National Association of Parents chairman, Musau Ndunda moved to court to block public secondary schools from hiking fees saying that it breached the guidelines issued by the Education Ministry.

Ndunda’s move to seek legal intervention compelled the Education Cabinet Secretary, Jacob Kaimenyi to form the Mriria-led taskforce to review the fees charged in public secondary schools to ensure they are affordable.   

It was discovered that national schools were charging up to KES 120 000 per student but if the harmonised fee structure is adopted, parents will be paying KES 41 574 after the State’s capitation of KES 10 265 per student.

Parents of children in day schools will be paying KES 13 265 under the same government’s capitation per student.

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