The quest for top schools in Kenya’s Form 1 admission process has led to a troubling trend where parents, dissatisfied with initial placements, navigate backdoor channels, encountering bribery solicitations from school administrators. The Star spoke to concerned parents who sought anonymity due to fears of repercussions on their children.
Desperation Spurs Bribery Solicitations
A parent shared the challenges he faced after his daughter was admitted to a lesser-known Extra County school in Western Kenya. Unsatisfied with the placement, he embarked on a search for positions in Nairobi schools. During this process, he encountered institutions demanding various sums for admission: one sought Sh18,000, another Sh30,000, and the last insisted on Sh50,000.
Covert Admission Processes
The parent described a secretive admission process where parents were not allowed into the school. Instead, they were handed lists to write their names, phone numbers, and their child’s KCPE exam marks. Subsequently, he received a call from someone claiming to be the Personal Assistant to the school principal, demanding Sh50,000 as a “kitu kidogo ya watu wa board” (a small token for the board). Negotiations ensued, settling at Sh30,000. The parent, wanting his daughter in Nairobi, ultimately found a slot without resorting to bribery.
Costly Maneuvers for Prestigious Institutions
Another parent shared her experience securing a position in a national school in Nairobi for her daughter. Dissatisfied with the initial placement in Kirinyaga County, she paid Sh20,000 through a covert process, including Sh10,000 for the admission form and an additional Sh10,000 to secure her daughter’s space. Despite Education CS Ezekiel Machogu’s directive against forcing parents to buy uniforms from schools, this parent was instructed to purchase a uniform for Sh33,000.
Hidden Costs and Deceptive Practices
Parents admitted that despite paying a Sh10,000 Infrastructure Fund provided by the government, they encountered additional hidden costs. In one instance, a parent felt tricked when the Sh10,000 was initially presented as part of school fees but was later deemed separate. These practices raise ethical concerns about transparency in the admission process.
Mixed Experiences with Uniform Purchases
Some parents shared experiences of acquiring admission letters without financial demands. One parent obtained a referral from a friend with connections to a teacher, securing an admission letter without payment. However, even in these cases, some schools instructed parents to buy uniforms from the institution, creating varying perceptions of transparency in the process.
EACC’s Response and Call for Reporting
The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) acknowledged receiving information about principals soliciting money for desired school slots. EACC spokesperson Erick Ngumbi termed the practice embarrassing and immoral, urging parents to report any school heads engaging in bribery for admission letters.