Every year new parents admitting their children to Form One are ambushed with outrageous demands by school principals eager to squeeze extra money from them.
Yesterday, a cross-section of parents shared the pains they had to go through to satisfy the demands of the head teachers.
They recalled how they had to make ridiculous purchases of items like mattresses, buckets, slashers, pangas, hockey sticks among others based on the institutions’ checklists.
A leading school in Tharaka Nithi County demanded that students joining Form One this year purchase pullovers from a specific shop in Meru County.
The management of Kaaga Girls High School, in an admission letter that we are in possession of,(The Standard) also asked new students to carry with them one new rug, six pairs of underpants and three pairs of brassieres.
These were extra items required of this year’s Form One students on top of school uniforms and bedding.
The letter read in part: “The uniform will cost you approximately Sh7,500. The colour code for 2016 Form One is blue clover. You will purchase these items from Meru Uniforms Shop that has this special design”.
The admission letter, which was signed by the Principal Eunice Maeke, further asked students to carry with them two packets of medium-sized laundry powder soap, four rolls of toilet paper and four pieces of toilet soap.
Ann Kibet, a resident of Elgeyo Marakwet County, said such expenditures are unwarranted since parents are struggling to make ends meet.
“Where do such material and sport gear go to. Most institutions want to take advantage of the opportunity, forgetting that we have a sole responsibility of paying fees and buying books for our children,” she said.
Kibet, whose child had been given a slot in Form One at a secondary school in Narok early this year, also fears parents will be forced to set aside additional funds on top what is specified in the fees structure next year.
“My worry is that the initial Sh40,000 fees might rise to Sh80,000 because of such unnecessary purchases,” she said.
“I was shocked when the management quarreled me for banking the fees instead of sending the amount via M-Pesa,” she said.
Samson Kiplagat, another parent, said there is need for Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i to intervene by ensuring that policies are put in place to cushion parents from exploitative practices by some school heads.
He said there is still need to provide parents with more information that will assist in avoiding incidences aimed at swindling them of their money.
Luka Maina also fronted for an audit in most schools to ascertain if all the equipment demanded are of any value to students.
He said most schools make such demands for students to prequalify for admission.
“I know of many who have lost their slots for failing to provide the required equipment and kits. The ministry should also provide a circular on the same so that parents are not be oppressed,” he added.
Parents from Kisumu, whose children joined Form One in January this year, have also shared their frustrations after schools gave a list of items they thought were irrelevant and exploitative.
Some of the parents said schools admitting their children demanded that they buy uniforms and bedding from specified suppliers.
“My child was admitted at a school in Migori County. The principal insisted that the uniforms must be from a supplier who had pitched camp at the school. It was an order and every parent had to deal with this supplier whose prices were double the ones in other towns,” says Margaret Kimuma.
Another parent, Gladys Oriaro, said she once asked the head teacher why Form One students were being asked to carry hockey sticks yet the school had no active hockey team and was threatened with suspension of her son.
She added: “The school has been collecting hockey sticks for the past 10 years from the over 70 Form One students every year. I am wondering where these sticks are kept,” she said.
The Standard learnt from parents that some schools even ask Form One entrants to buy plastic chairs.
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