Kenya: Biting poverty forces school to accept firewood as fees

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VOI: With rising secondary school fees, many parents are increasingly unable to cope with the high cost of education.

In the Coast region, the situation is particularly grave due to high poverty levels in most counties. Some schools have, however, devised ways to cushion parents against these high costs and ensure pupils learn.

Kaya Tiwi Secondary School principal Robert Aran, notes that most students come from farming communities that cannot afford to pay fees.

The principal said that about 60 students who have reported at the institution have opted to pay fees using firewood, livestock, maize and beans. Some parents have also opted to work for the school to raise money for their children’s fees.

“These are commodities used here daily. We accept firewood, maize, beans and livestock, which we quantity and translate into fees,” Mr Aran said.

At the school, we found a pile of firewood brought by some parents as fees.Most of them do casual jobs at a construction site in the institution that is a mixed boarding school with a student population of 900.

The school charges Sh45,559 for Form One students, which most families can’t afford. The school Board of Governors chairman George Mokaya Swanya, explained that the harsh economic times have compelled the management to accept fees in other forms.

“Some parents are struggling and can ill afford other luxuries in life. Some offer to work at the school’s ongoing constructions,” Mr Mokaya said.

He believes the alternative mode of paying fees is a better way of supporting poor parents educate their children. Mokaya regretted that some students from poor families are forced to repeat class to allow their older siblings to progress. “It is equally befitting that at Kaya Tiwi School, we accept fees in other forms other than cash,” he said.

A break down of the school’s fee structure, a copy of which is in our possession, shows that in first term, Form One students pay Sh19,842, second term Sh14,535 while third term Sh11,172. This includes Sh8,842 as boarding, equipment and stores fees, Sh800 repair fees, Sh200 administration fee, Sh300 medical fee, Sh300 for transport, Sh3,200 Board of Management teachers’ salary, activity fee Sh1,000 and personal emoluments Sh1,400. Electricity, water and conservancy fee is Sh800 and development and PTA fund is Sh2,000. Source: In2EastAfrica

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