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High Court suspends payment of school fees via eCitizen

The High Court has temporarily suspended a directive from the Ministry of Education mandating parents to pay school fees through the eCitizen platform.

Education CS Ezekiel Machogu and PS Belio Kipsang officiating the release of 2023 KCSE examinations at Moi Girls High School, Eldoret

This order came after a petition was filed by Dr. Magare Gikenyi, a Nakuru-based surgeon, challenging the government's directive issued by Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang on January 31, 2024.

The court's decision, delivered by Judge Chacha Mwita, puts a hold on the directive until further directions are issued on February 13, 2024​​​​.

The initial directive was part of a broader government effort to streamline services and enhance transparency in fee payment processes.

It required all national schools to submit their banking details to the ministry to facilitate the transition to digital payments.

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This move aligns with President William Ruto's broader vision for a digital economy, aiming to eliminate cash payments susceptible to abuse and ensure accountability in the collection of school fees​​.

However, the directive has been met with resistance from various stakeholders, including the Council of Governors.

Eric Mutai, the chairperson of the Council's Education Committee and Kericho governor, called for the suspension of the directive until adequate guidelines are established.

He emphasized the need for organized implementation to prevent confusion and skepticism among Kenyans, especially given the potential challenges for parents in rural areas accustomed to paying fees in non-monetary forms​​.

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The pushback against the directive reflects broader concerns about access to digital services, transparency, and the potential exclusion of those less familiar with or unable to use digital payment platforms.

It also underscores the importance of public participation in the rollout of policies affecting essential services like education.

As the situation develops, all eyes will be on the High Court's next steps and the government's response to the call for clearer guidelines and more inclusive implementation strategies for digital school fee payments.

President William Ruto firmly stood by the directive to digitize the payment of school fees through the e-Citizen platform, emphasizing its continuation despite facing opposition.

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During a meeting with the Kenyan diaspora in Tokyo, Japan on February 7, Ruto highlighted that the initiative aims to curb corruption and streamline government transactions, ensuring transparency and accountability in the process of paying school fees.

He expressed that the digitization of government services, including school fee payments, is crucial for eliminating the abuse of cash payments and stopping the misuse of paybills that collect government funds under false pretenses​​​​​​.

The president argued that the consolidation of over 3,000 government paybills into one would significantly reduce opportunities for corruption, thereby safeguarding public funds.

He assured that the transition to digital payments through the e-Citizen platform is well underway and unstoppable, aiming to enhance service delivery across the board.

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