Pupils are currently out of school enjoying the third-term holidays before trooping back to school in January. The holidays come with a lot of relief to parents, most of whom go through thick and thin to sustain their children in school by paying all the fees and levies required.
For a section of parents in Kisumu’s Obunga estate, the cost of funding their kids’ education is taking a financial toll on them. From paying school fees, lunch and transport costs to and from school, it is a real struggle for a majority.
Josephat Musebe is among parents with kids in school. Two of his daughters are pupils at the MM Shah Primary School, while his son is a pupil at the Salem academy. At the MM Shah Primary School, he does not pay school fees because it is a public school.
“At Salem academy, I pay Sh6, 000 per term which makes it 18, 000 per year. I took my son to the school after he failed to land a chance at MM Shah,” said Musebe, a mechanic.
His daughters are set to join grade two and five while the son will be joining grade four. Musebe said he needs at least Sh1, 200 per week to foot for children’s lunch and transport charges. The daughters go to school using a motorcycle with charges being Sh50 to and another Sh50 from school. The son walks to school.
Apart from the additional levies charged by the public schools, parents grapple with costs of providing essentials such as sanitary towels for girls. Sometimes, they have to rely on well-wishers to keep for the pads as a way of keeping their girls in school
His sentiments are shared by Eunice Ouma, another resident. She has two daughters set to join grade six and seven respectively next year at Salem academy.
“Paying school fees is really taking a toll on my family. I would gladly welcome any support,” she said. Being a slum area, Obunga is a populous place. The nearby public primary school Kudho secondary but most parents do not prefer taking their children there due to ‘lacking academic prowess.
The parents have called on the county and CDF education offices to consider primary schools when issuing bursaries.
Most parents have to rely on school feeding programs because they can only afford one meal a day. During this holiday season, pupils are going without food as they are not in school.
As such, a majority of kids from Obunga who are not in private schools, school at the MM Shah and Arya Primary School, almost two kilometres away.
Musebe suggested that Kudho primary school be upgraded to match the status of Arya and MM Shah so that parents take their kids near to where they stay.
“What is needed is the upgrade of Kudho primary school infrastructure so that we take our children there to minimize costs,” he said.