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Education Committee Raises Concerns Over E-Citizen School Fee Payment Plan

Lawmakers have expressed reservations about the government’s initiative to mandate the payment of all school fees through the eCitizen platform.

The National Assembly Committee on Education and Research, chaired by Hon. Malulu Injendi (Malava), held discussions with Amb. (Prof.) Julius K. Bitok, the Principal Secretary for Immigration and Citizen Services, to discuss the presidential directive concerning school fee payments via E-Citizen.

Several Committee members raised doubts about the plan’s feasibility, especially for families in remote areas lacking consistent internet connectivity and electricity. “How can parents in villages be expected to pay school fees online?” questioned Hon. Jerusha Momanyi, MP for Nyamira County.

In response, Amb. Bitok acknowledged these challenges but defended the eCitizen platform, describing it as having a “robust system” designed to streamline school fee collection. He also highlighted ongoing consultations between his department and the Ministry of Education to address these concerns.

Concerns were also voiced regarding potential additional costs associated with using the eCitizen platform, which could impose an additional financial burden on parents. Hon. Malulu Ijendi and Hon. Rebecca Tonkei (Narok County) both sought clarification on whether parents would incur extra charges for paying school fees via eCitizen.

“We will not charge transaction fees to parents for paying school fees,” assured PS Bitok.

Amb. Bitok disclosed that the implementation of the plan is scheduled to commence on May 1st, 2024, pending the resolution of a court order and completion of stakeholder engagement.

He also mentioned that while some educational institutions have already integrated with eCitizen, many others, including county and national schools, still need to be onboarded.

Questions were also raised about the time it would take for schools to receive electronically paid fees, given the typical delays associated with the National Treasury.

The Committee emphasized the importance of a flexible system that can accommodate parents who traditionally pay school fees with goods like livestock. “Many parents, especially in rural areas, pay school fees using items like maize, firewood, and goats. How will the platform cater to them?” queried Hon. Nabii Nabwera (Lugari).

Amb. Bitok assured the Committee that the platform would accommodate in-kind payments, but legislators pressed him for specifics on how this would be implemented.

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