Are school trips the new scams in town?

My daughter had been practising a poem for the whole week and she let me know that they were going to present it at another school for the music festivals. She also said she would need snacks for the day and I was surprised because we pay some activity fee to the school. I let it go because I wanted her to enjoy herself.

A few days later, she came with a letter demanding Ksh. 100 for the trip and I gave her. Then she came with another demanding Ksh. 150 for transport, never mind that the school owns two buses. It didn’t make sense but I said I would pay it but forgot all about it and so did she.

When she reached the school ready for the trip, she was told to keep her snacks and that they were no travelling. Apparently, all parents had refused to pay the extra transport fee, the school decided not go for the festivals. I laughed. I laughed, laughed, laughed then laughed some more. I had all along been planning to go and incite the other parents not to pay for unnecessary items but they were a step ahead of me and had done the needful. My daughter felt bad for a few days but she got over it.

Today, as I was scrolling my Facebook page I saw a parent complain in a group called 52 days of savings about his son’s school which asked him to pay Ksh. 2500 to Thika Road Mall from Uthiru. Did I mention that the children are paying to go see animals, and flora and fauna at a mall? A mall, my people, a mall. He concluded by saying that he would be damned if he was going to pay that money.

Eddy Mugure, said that they were asked to pay Ksh. 2000 to take the children to the Hub in Karen. The school is in this Nairobi County.

Mawaia Matolo says that they were asked to pay Ksh. 3500 for a visit to the National Park which is not far from the city centre.

Amooh Tamanda, on her part, paid for her child Ksh. 15000 from Nairobi to Arusha town in Tanzania and Ksh. 20,000 to Mombasa on another occasion. Sally Nyambura says that a mother had to pay Ks. 2500 for her child to visit Juja mall and they live in Kasarani.

Anthony Lunalo, while sympathetic to a school’s need to supplement their budgets, says that $15000 that his daughter’s school demanded for a trip to Dubai is too much and she will definitely not be boarding to Dubai or anywhere that requires that amount. He has decided to take his child to Dubai himself.

As per his words, his last trip did not even cost more than Ksh. 200000. Other parents vowed to keep their children at home and make private arrangements for the trips to the places assigned by their respective schools.

A teacher who sought anonymity for the sake of her job is saddened at the turn of events she says surely parents are being taken for a ride. She maintains that while the money is necessary for a successful field trip, schools are increasingly taking advantage of wide-eyed parents. Ouch!

In a recent interview, Mr. Nicholas Maiyo, the chairman of the National Parents’ Association, asked the Education ministry to come up with guidelines for costing the trips

“The ministry should come up with a standard price because schools actually overprice trips, overburdening parents,” he said.

So what happens if a child does not go for the trips? They will feel bad when the others come back and start talking about the trip. But isn’t it time we started teaching our children that they cannot have everything they want in this life?

Faith Wanja says, it is about letting the child known that it is ok not to have everything, especially if it is extortion.

“Despite my child being to the hub a few times, I did not let him go with the school, but after explaining to him. He is not broken, in fact he has become a very understanding boy,”  said Wanja

As I see it, parents are being fleeced in broad daylight and just as with everything else we are a society that is everyone for themselves. It is all fun and games when you are being asked to pay Ksh.25 to go to the Kenya National Archives in Nairobi when you are in Nairobi’s Eastlands but wait until you have to pay Ksh.20 000 to Mombasa and your children are put up in a school in the town with very bad food.

It is better for parents to speak out whenever they feel it is too much. Parents and teachers need to come together and work on the costs of these field trips. You cannot miss all the meetings set by the schools then act surprised at how they came to such a costly conclusion. Parents need to protest any amount that seems unreasonable to them and let the school explain to them how they arrived at that cost.

Dear parents, our children are not as fragile as we think. They can take bad news and as much as we want to shield them from all the bad things taking place in the world, they can understand that sometimes mum and dad may not have the money for the trip. They should understand that missing one trip is not the end of the world and that there will be others. Do not kill yourself trying to get the exorbitant amount demanded for the trips.


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