Standard Eight and Form Four private examination centres that were shut due to the Covid-19 pandemic will be reopened next year, the government has said.
Education Chief Administrative Secretary Zack Kinuthia told the Nation that President Uhuru Kenyatta directed the Ministries of Education, Health, Devolution and Interior to ensure the centres are operational before the national examinations begin in March.
Mr Kinuthia said the President is worried that at least 180 private primary and secondary schools that had been registered as examinations centres were shut may not reopen.
He added that Mr Kenyatta has directed school proprietors and directors be called for meetings at the location level before January 1.
Mr Kinutha said the government is willing to bail out some of the schools by guaranteeing them capital. He said the government would in some instances borrow space from its departments to be used as classrooms.
In August, President Kenyatta said the government would set aside Sh7 billion in concessionary loans to help private schools hit by the pandemic.
The schools have, however, not received any funding.
Kenya Private Schools Association (KPSA) estimates that close to 300 institutions will not open on January 4, affecting 56,000 children.
Mr Kinuthia put the figure at 130,000 learners, with 30,000 being Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination candidates.
Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha last week said the government would establish temporary centres for KCPE and KCSE candidates whose schools may have closed.
He asked parents of children in other classes to enrol them in public schools.
The Health Ministry will enforce Covid-19 protocols while that of Interior will work to get candidates and other learners back to school.
The Ministry of Devolution will be involved since county governments are in charge of the Early Childhood Development Education.
"Our field intelligence filed reports that we shared with State House. We wanted to know what happens to closed schools whose directors cannot be found,” Mr Kinuthia said in Karega township, Murang’a county.
He added that the other challenge would be many parents seeking to transfer their children from one school to another.
“We will certainly not clear unnecessary transfers. Directors of education have been instructed to only clear unavoidable transfers,” he said.
Meanwhile, Catholic Commission for Education chairman Paul Kariuki Sunday said many schools have not received the promised government assistance as they battle the pandemic.
He also appealed to the government to extend the aid to private schools.
Bishop Kariuki said private schools play a key role in education and need to be assisted.
Additional reporting by David Muchunguh