TI-Kenya’s Legal Advice Center helps Halt unlawful School Fees at a Primary School in Kisumu

In Kenya, the government has long recognised the importance of education as a fundamental right for all children. To ensure equal access to education, the government has heavily subsidised public primary school fees, striving to alleviate financial burdens on parents and guardians. However, despite these efforts, instances of corruption often threaten to undermine this noble initiative. Such was the case in January 2023 at a Primary School in Kisumu County, with more than 1,300 students. The school head’s imposition of unauthorised extra charges stirred controversy and concern among parents. With fees already subsidised by the government, the demand for an additional Ksh. 15,000 under the guise of admission fees (Ksh 5,000), desk fees (Ksh 5,000), and Parent-Teachers Association fees (Ksh 5000) amounted to blatant exploitation. 

The incident at the School sparked concern among parents and advocacy groups alike, prompting swift action from Transparency International Kenya’s Advocacy Legal Advice Center (ALAC) – Western Region Office in Kisumu. TI-Kenya responded to a complaint filed by a parent from the Primary School who sought legal advice on the matter. Recognising the gravity of the situation, the first step involved gathering concrete evidence to substantiate the claims made by the concerned parent. Simultaneously, communication channels were swiftly opened with the Ministry of Education, underscoring the urgency of addressing the matter to safeguard the educational rights of the affected students and parents, and to uphold the principles of transparency and accountability in education governance as enshrined in the provisions of the Constitution of Kenya 2010. Specifically Article 53, on the right to free and compulsory basic education for every child in Kenya. Furthermore, the Basic Education Act of 2013 that reinforces this fundamental principle by stipulating that public schools shall not charge any fees or levies that have not been prescribed by the government. Additionally, the Public Finance Management Act of 2012 emphasises the prudent and transparent use of public funds, prohibiting unauthorised expenditures or charges by public institutions. It is within this legal framework that TI-Kenya initiated its pursuit of justice on behalf of the aggrieved parent from the Primary School.

Through the collaborative efforts between the Ministry of Education and TI-Kenya’s ALAC Western Region Office, a decisive response was planned to rectify the situation at hand, the school administration was compelled by the Ministry of Education to cease its unlawful practice of imposing additional charges on parents. The concerned parent, who reported the case at TI-Kenya has since affirmed the school’s compliance with the directive by the Ministry of Education to halt the unjust demands for an additional Ksh. 15,000 by the Primary School’s head. 

This victory underscores the power of legal advocacy in safeguarding the educational rights of children. Through TI-Kenya’s effort to champion for transparency, accountability, and adherence to the law, justice was restored at the Primary School, ensuring that no child’s access to education is compromised by unjust financial burdens, bringing relief to the parents, and setting a precedent for accountability within the education sector.

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In Kenya, the government has long recognised the importance of education as a fundamental right for all children. To ensure equal access to education, the government has heavily subsidised public primary school fees, striving to alleviate financial burdens on parents and guardians. However, despite these efforts, instances of corruption often threaten to undermine this noble initiative. Such was the case in January 2023 at a Primary School in Kisumu County, with more than 1,300 students. The school head’s imposition of unauthorised extra charges stirred controversy and concern among parents. With fees already subsidised by the government, the demand for an additional Ksh. 15,000 under the guise of admission fees (Ksh 5,000), desk fees (Ksh 5,000), and Parent-Teachers Association fees (Ksh 5000) amounted to blatant exploitation. 

The incident at the School sparked concern among parents and advocacy groups alike, prompting swift action from Transparency International Kenya’s Advocacy Legal Advice Center (ALAC) – Western Region Office in Kisumu. TI-Kenya responded to a complaint filed by a parent from the Primary School who sought legal advice on the matter. Recognising the gravity of the situation, the first step involved gathering concrete evidence to substantiate the claims made by the concerned parent. Simultaneously, communication channels were swiftly opened with the Ministry of Education, underscoring the urgency of addressing the matter to safeguard the educational rights of the affected students and parents, and to uphold the principles of transparency and accountability in education governance as enshrined in the provisions of the Constitution of Kenya 2010. Specifically Article 53, on the right to free and compulsory basic education for every child in Kenya. Furthermore, the Basic Education Act of 2013 that reinforces this fundamental principle by stipulating that public schools shall not charge any fees or levies that have not been prescribed by the government. Additionally, the Public Finance Management Act of 2012 emphasises the prudent and transparent use of public funds, prohibiting unauthorised expenditures or charges by public institutions. It is within this legal framework that TI-Kenya initiated its pursuit of justice on behalf of the aggrieved parent from the Primary School.

Through the collaborative efforts between the Ministry of Education and TI-Kenya’s ALAC Western Region Office, a decisive response was planned to rectify the situation at hand, the school administration was compelled by the Ministry of Education to cease its unlawful practice of imposing additional charges on parents. The concerned parent, who reported the case at TI-Kenya has since affirmed the school’s compliance with the directive by the Ministry of Education to halt the unjust demands for an additional Ksh. 15,000 by the Primary School’s head. 

This victory underscores the power of legal advocacy in safeguarding the educational rights of children. Through TI-Kenya’s effort to champion for transparency, accountability, and adherence to the law, justice was restored at the Primary School, ensuring that no child’s access to education is compromised by unjust financial burdens, bringing relief to the parents, and setting a precedent for accountability within the education sector.

Jane Kingori

Grants Manager, USAID USAWA Program

Jane is a finance and grants specialist with a Master of Science in Organizational Development, Bachelor of Commerce in Finance and CPA (K). She has over 15 years’ of experience in strengthening organizations ‘capacities for sustainable program delivery through integration of best grants and financial management practices and compliance with different donor rules and regulations including USAID, UKAID, DANIDA, GCERF, SIDA and EU among others. She has served as the grants management technical lead at Faith To Action Network and Act Change Transform.