Outrage among parents over the cost of Form One Uniform.
Thousands of Form One parents are up in arms after several secondary schools charged exorbitant fees for school uniforms before their May 3 reporting date.
Angry parents have taken to social media platforms to register their disapproval of the move by schools to charge up to Sh 30,000 for uniforms.
In most cases, schools either refer parents to select uniform distributors from which they require uniforms for new secondary school entrants.
In other cases, schools directed that those with the form buy uniforms at the school only when they report.
Huruma Girls, an additional county secondary school in Nairobi, is known to form one parents as Minazi Apparel based on Nong Road with a branch in the Donholm Estate.
As per the circular given to the parents, the cost of the uniform will be Sh 25,000, which should be paid directly into the account of the outfitters. This amount exceeds the first term school fees set by the Ministry of Education for national schools.
“The total amount payable for the school uniform is Sh 25,000. The payment should be made through bankers cheque… Wearing school uniform is strictly mandatory and every article of clothing should be of correct color and school pattern, bearing full name of the student,” read a letter.
Mary Hill Girls, a national school in Kiambu County, is charging kshs 29,895 for the uniform, which must be purchased at Chania School Depot.
Bishop Gatimu Ngandu Girls, a national school in Karatina, Nyeri County, is charging Sh 18,985 for a set of uniforms.
An additional county school in Upper Hill, Nairobi is charging Sh 35,000 for school uniforms and Sh 13,000 for bedding. The uniform is to be purchased from Weaver Bird, a school uniform outlet located on River Road in Nairobi. The school demands that a parent pay the full amount for uniform and bedding as a precondition for admission.
“This is pure extortion, this school is charging a lot more than the national schools which are paying between the two Sh 45,000 and Sh 54,000. This is unacceptable, yet we cannot do anything as we cannot secure alternative schools,” protested a parent, whose son has been admitted to the school.
But aware of the fierce opposition, the Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (KSSHA) said the issue of school uniforms would be discussed during the ongoing annual conference of principals in Mombasa.
KSHA chairperson Kahi Indimulli yesterday defended the controversial allegations that some schools are getting their uniforms from certain suppliers, while duly following the prescribed procurement guidelines.
“I want to believe that we have procurement processes that have to be started and if a school has properly followed the procedures required by law and a supplier has been identified, I want to believe that they will do this. Can buy from supplier because they have been successful before,” said Indimulli, who was part of a panel on a televised morning talk show.
“There is a general feeling that this should not be done, for me I would say that if a child has come with the right shade then we should allow the student,” he said.
He also explained that some principals have left the process open, where parents can buy from any store as long as the color is acceptable.
For others, he said, they ask suppliers to bring uniforms for students to the school so that they can pick it up from there after winning the tender.
He said the principal would discuss a similar question and give an advice at the ongoing KSHA conference in Mombasa.
However, he called out those suppliers who take advantage of the process of making substandard uniforms.
Nicolas Mayo, president of the National Parents’ Association, said forcing parents to buy uniforms from schools or specialty stores is against competition law.
Last year, the Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK) said that parents should be free to purchase school uniforms from their preferred outlets, as long as they meet the correct specifications.
The CAK warned headmasters against recommending shops that uniforms could be purchased in their admit cards and instructed parents to join without apparent benefit.
The CAK informed school administrators, uniform outlet parents and the public that directing parents to specific locations to purchase uniforms violates the Competition Act and undermines the spirit of competition and benefits.