High Court saves private schools

You cannot take your child to an expensive private school and then complain of high fees. Private schools can now breathe a sigh of relief after a Nairobi High Court came to their rescue.

In a petition presided over by Justice Weldon Korir, the High Court ruled on September 3, that a Court of Law cannot order a reduction in school fees – more so for a private institution. 

Justice Korir said this is not the role of the court and not something the court is capable of doing because it doesn’t fall in its mandate.

The petition was filed by ‘Brookhouse Parents Association’ (BPA) against Brookhouse School. But the verdict is a precedent that will be enjoyed by other private schools including Crawford International schools among others. 

Brookhouse parents had gone to court complaining that the school was exploiting them and demanded a 30 per cent fee discount on online learning during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The court said it cannot determine the price of goods and services in the market.

“The market determines the price of goods and services. In the circumstances, people buy the goods and services they can afford”, said Justice Korir.  

Korir said that it is unreasonable then, for parents to take their children to a private school and then demand fee reduction.

He noted that although the parents’ do have constitutional rights, it has to be balanced against rights of the school and those of investors.

The court also said the closure of schools was very abrupt because of the circumstances but the school has an obligation to consult. 

It also found that Brookhouse consulted adequately and that there has been no infringement on the rights of children.

The court also ruled that the school is licensed; whether by delivering education by physical means or virtual means.

In the ruling, the court also noted that it cannot micromanage other state organs.

“A Judge cannot order the government to review the law,” Korir ruled.

The High court also said  that there was no need to assign blame to either party for failure to form a Parents Teachers Association (PTA). 

He said the school and parents must now establish a PTA which meets the requirements of the Basic Education Act in no less than 120 days.

“The school must always consider the best interests of the child when making policy changes,” He said.

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