Kenyan parents take government to court over lack of free education

Parents in Kenya have sued the government for failing to provide free education for their children.

Schools are still charging fees for tuition, textbooks, uniforms and meals – 10 years after the right to free basic education was enshrined in law and three years after that was extended to secondary schools.

The Guardian newspaper has reported that the Kenyan government has asked for two weeks to respond to the lawsuit.

The Guardian told how Esther Muia, a housekeeper in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, has to pay a monthly fee of £42 for each of her three children at secondary school – despite earning just £105 per month. She said: “We were told [their schooling] was to be free but we are still paying.”

Parents of primary children have to pay for textbooks, uniforms and meals, while parents of secondary students pay for tuition.

Musau Ndunda, head of the Kenyan National Association of Parents, said: “Even though it is against the law, schools are charging fees.”

The organisation has brought the lawsuit against education minister Jacob Kaimenyi and leading civil servant Belio Kipsang. An initial hearing has been set for February 10.

Kenya spends 17% of its budget on education and no has 86% of under-11s enrolled in school. But critics say class sizes are too big and rates of literacy and numeracy are poor.