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MPs reject proposal to pay exam fees for private students

17 April 2015, 21:27 Samuel Kisika

Nairobi – MPs have rejected a proposal by private schools officials asking the government to pay national examination fees for their candidates as those in public schools.

The Private Schools Association National Chairman, Ernest Wangai accompanied by a team of over five other officials told the National Assembly education committee that the government’s waivered examination fees for candidates in public schools should be extended to private schools to avoid discrimination.

“The government’s waivered examination fees for candidates in public schools should be granted to all candidates in the country. Candidates sitting for national examinations annually pay an estimated KES 350 million and we see this as little money for the government to pay,” said Wangai.

He raised concern that the government has been sidelining private schools in its programs and further discriminating their students through Form One selection exercise contrary to the constitutional provisions of fair and equal treatment to every Kenyan citizen.

“The government should treat all these children equally because they are all Kenyan citizens and same future manpower for this country. Private schools are not for the rich as perceived by some people since majority of them are faith-based and funded by foreign well-wishers to support children of all social status,” said Wangai.

Mogotio MP, Hellen Sambili who rejected the private schools representatives’ proposal claimed that majority of children in their institutions are from well-off families and that the schools charge high fees, thus, should develop their own mechanism of supporting needy students.

“I ask you to visit Starehe School and learn how it supports children from needy families without the government’s support. Children in private schools get access to adequate learning facilities such as books, libraries, laboratories, buses, recreational facilities including swimming pools and high quality education compared to those in public schools,” said Sambili.

She claimed that most private schools are in the education sector to make money by minimizing costs through hiring of untrained teachers and charging exorbitant fees to make huge profit.

“Today there are many private schools almost everywhere in the country. We don’t know who regulates their school fees and whether they meet the required set up standards,” said Sambili.

The Education committee vice chair, Julius Melly (Tinderet MP) said lauded private sector education representatives for promoting levels of education in the country and asked the government to embrace their efforts through mutual partnerships.

“There is structural authority problem in the Education ministry and it is high time for the Cabinet Secretary to awake and implement rules governing the education sector to avoid discrimination,” said Melly.

In January 2015, the government allocated KES 2.9 billion to the Kenya National Examination Council for national examination fees to a total of 906 429 KCPE candidates and 519 607 KCSE candidates.

The fees waiver for candidates in public schools was welcomed by parents with children in public schools who considered it a relieve since a good number of students both from primary and secondary schools failed to sit for national examinations due to lack of exam fees.

KCPE candidates pay not more than KES 4 000 while KCSE candidates pay not more than KES 8 000 for examination fees.

Private schools representatives also told the committee to help the Education ministry develop a fair Form One selection system where children from private schools do not feel discriminated in favor of those in public schools.

They also called for reverting of the school ranking system during the release of national examination to promote motivation, competition and uplifting of education standards.

“Ranking is a way of life and there is even ranking of employees in the Education ministry in terms of performance. The government’s banning of ranking is the failure by the Education ministry in enforcing some laws and we want ranking to be back and modified to compare the alike as possible,” said Wangai.

Melly responded with an assurance that a Bill sponsored by Kiminini MP, Chris Wamalwa seeking the reverting of ranking is under legislative processes in the House and that they will mobilize other MPs to pass it to compel the Education CS, Jacob Kaimenyi to revert the system.  

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- MyNews24

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