NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 5 – As schools re-open for the first term of the year, Kenyan parents have expressed their worries over the increasing cost of education in the country.
With a section rushing to beat the deadline to purchase back-to-school items, many of those interviewed said that traders had once again hiked the prices as has been the practice.
Coupled with high inflation rates and a stagnant economy the parents said times were getting harder.
"We feel the pinch now because the prices of food and fuel have gone up. I mean everything has gone up," said James Weru adding that this had reduced the purchasing power of the parents.
"If we compare the amount we spent last year now the prices have gone up. As much as you have the money you can only purchase very few commodities," another parent said as she identified uniforms for her daughter at a clothes store in the city centre.
Parents have in the last week been engaged in a last minute rush shopping ahead of the opening dates this week. Amidst claims that traders have hiked their prices to cash-in on the season, the business owners have complained that business is not as good as it seems.
Kanti Haria, a partner with the School Outfitters told Capital News that profits for this year were likely to drop owing to increased costs of operation.
"We did not want to change the price because of the inflation. We have kept the same prices although the prices of materials and other business costs have gone up. Profit margins might have gone down because we have paid extra," Mr Haria said.
Mr Haria added that as opposed to last year when the election prevented parents from purchasing early enough, a good number of parents this year did their shopping before Christmas.
Parents interviewed by Capital News were also anxious about the expected school fees increases. Although the government has indicated its opposition to the increases, school administrators have maintained that this is inevitable owing to the rising cost basic commodities. Education Minister Sam Ongeri last week directed that head teachers stick to the fees guidelines issued last year.
But the Kenya National Association of Parents (KNAP) has accused School heads of ignoring the government’s guidelines and increasing the fees despite the clear directive. In a statement last week KNAP Secretary General Musau Ndunda called on government to intervene.
"We are feeling the heat now and the Kenya parent is crying," one of the interviewed parents said.
Professor Ongeri assured the schools last week that all the monies for the free education system for the term had been dispatched to specific school accounts.
The ministry has set guidelines of what schools at different levels are allowed to charge. Schools are allowed to increase the fees for specific school projects but only with an approval from parents and endorsement by District Education officials.