Education Principal Secretary (PS) Belio Kipsang on Wednesday, October 28, announced that the payment of lunch fees for day secondary school students is optional, providing a clear direction for parents who have been unable to pay the lunch fees.
He further directed that students who failed to pay the stipulated fee should not be excluded or sent home.
“Lunch arrangement for students in day secondary schools is optional. It should not lead to exclusion of students in the event parents fail to pay,” reads an excerpt from a statement sent out by the Education Ministry.
But the Government directive has left some parents confused as to how the system will work for those that are unable to pay the optional fee.
Speaking to Kenyans.co.ke, Hudson Muraya expressed his concern as he was not certain on the way forward given that his son, enrolled at Gicherore High School in Embu, has been facing a major challenge in bringing in food from home.
“Things have been tough during this period and the optional fee is a welcome relief. However, school principals should also be directed to allow such students to bring in food from home,” he opined.
In December 2019 day secondary school principals in Embu were cautioned against sending students home for failure to pay lunch fee.
Embu County Commissioner Abdulahi Galgalo and Eastern Regional Education Officer Patrick Khaemba said the government was committed to ensuring 100% transition to secondary schools and had thus paid tuition for each student.
“You should let the students come to school with their own lunch even if that is just githeri. The President wants every child to get a chance to learn even if they have no money for lunch,” he stated at the time.
Following the latest directive, several Kenyans also shared their views on its practicality.
“Imagine this scenario. 90% pays for the fee. During lunch you tell the other 10% to come with their own, however, some come from places where any form of meal is a challenge,” one Kenyan remarked.
The gradual reopening of schools in Kenya has been hit by countless challenges, with the recent surge of Covid-19 cases within the country its biggest threat to date.
Several schools have recorded positive as well as a headteacher losing his life to the deadly virus. This has led many parents to question whether or not their children are safer at home or in the confines of their schools.