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Secondary school heads are exploiting a policy gap that immediate former Education secretary Jacob Kaimenyi created to issue hefty fee demands on parents and introduce new project charges, raising school fees way above the recommended ceilings. 

The fees guidelines, which banned non-essential charges like teacher motivation and education improvement, left an unguarded loophole that school heads are now using to squeeze cash from parents.

Last February, in a bid to tame the haphazard increases effected by the institutions every year, the Education Ministry capped annual secondary school fees at Sh9,374 for day scholars, Sh53,553 for boarding and Sh37,210 for special needs schools. However, it allowed schools to charge Form two, three and four students extra fees for ongoing infrastructure and transport projects that had already been approved.

Using this loophole to steal from parents, the schools are now separating the “actual fee” and “project costs,” making sure that the former amount is within the Sh53,553 limit but lumping other costs under the development bracket.

Some schools charging students as much as Sh82,000 per year. For instance, in a certain national school (name withheld) parents of ongoing students are being asked to pay Sh53,554 in fees but underneath this column is an “ongoing projects” entry that carries an extra charge of Sh16,600. In another county school, parents have been asked to part with approximately Sh10,000 each to apparently offset a defaulted commercial bank loan that was used to build a dormitory block.

Meanwhile, The Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC) will no longer have sweeping powers to cancel, nullify or withhold national examinations results if Parliament enacts a proposed law.

The Kenya National Examinations Amendment Bill 2015, which is due for its Second Reading in the Senate, seeks to establish a Tribunal to review KNEC’s decisions in the administration of national examinations.

The Kenyan National Examinations Appeals Tribunal will give a window of opportunity to candidates dissatisfied with KNEC’s administration of exams to challenge adverse decisions by the council against them.

Currently, KNEC enjoys absolute and near- unquestionable powers to cancel, withhold or nullify a candidate’s examination results for irregularities without any explanation whatsoever, leaving victims without recourse other than re-sitting the council’s exams a year later.

But if the published Bill by Kisii Senator Chris Obure is okayed, then Knec’s decisions would be subjected to a review process by the Tribunal, which will have powers to consider all appeals made against a decision of the council.

Candidates aggrieved by decisions by KNEC will be required to lodge an appeal in writing with the Tribunal within the a period of 14 days from the date of the release of examinations results and force the council to produce results slips for evaluation. The Tribunal will then summon witnesses, take evidence on oath or affirmation and order the production of documents.

The Tribunal will then be under obligation to transmit a copy of the application made and any other supporting documents to the council within seven days of receipt of the application.

Where the person aggrieved by the decision is a minor, the application shall be made by the parent or guardian of the minor.

Upon the hearing of an appeal, the Tribunal may confirm, set aside or vary a decision of the Council; or make such other order that it may consider appropriate.

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