What you need to know:
- Private schools want parents to first clear fees arrears for the first term that was cut short with three weeks remaining.
- Parents argue that the term has also been shortened by three weeks and they should get a discount.
- Some schools have also asked parents to pay for the virtual classes that ran during the seven-month closure.
Some private schools have set punitive conditions for parents, including demanding that fees are paid in full ahead of reopening on Monday.
This requirement will especially hit hard thousands of parents who have to scout for new schools for their children, with related additional costs, as nearly 200 academies have been driven out of business by Covid-19.
Private schools want parents to first clear fees arrears for the first term that was cut short with three weeks remaining.
Also set for contention is the demand by schools that parents pay the full fees for Term Two, as set at the beginning of the year.
Parents argue that the term has also been shortened by three weeks and they should get a discount for the six weeks lost.
Some schools have also asked parents to pay for the virtual classes that ran during the seven-month closure irrespective of whether their children attended the classes or not. Cash-strapped schools are imposing the demands to try get out of financial woes that have forced close to 200 institutions out of business.
“This is completely unfair as it was my choice that my son doesn’t attend the poorly run online classes. We will have to ask the management to reconsider this,” Sammy Mwangi, a parent in Nairobi told the Nation.
Sukari Presbyterian Academy in Nairobi has informed parents that those who failed to enrol their children for online classes were considered to have withdrawn from the school and will have to seek readmission.
“Admission will be subject to the child measuring (sic) to the standard of his/her class, availability of space and ability to meet financial obligations among other condition [sic],” the letter reads.
Nova Pioneer Schools Director Christopher Khaemba indicated that they might review the fees for the second term.
“Our finance team is finalising on the costing and we’ll communicate the same to parents by Friday,” Mr Khaemba told Nation.
Prepare for learners
He added that the schools will not open on Monday as announced by Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha but will use next week to prepare to receive the learners.
“It will be too hasty to open next week. We have to clean all the classrooms and dormitories and also fumigate them,” he said.
In a message to parents, Kianda School principal Joan Odera said: “We are working on the details of reopening of school including the dates of resumption. We will get back as soon as everything is finalised. Meanwhile, we will continue with the online sessions.”
More than 54,000 learners in private schools will have to seek alternative places after their schools shut down.
Kenya Private Schools Association secretary general, Peter Ndoro, yesterday told the Nation that 196 primary and secondary schools have already notified the association that they are unable to resume business.
“The schools said they had to completely shut down and expect parents to transfer their children to other schools,” said Mr Ndoro.
He said owners of the affected schools have already been advised by the association to communicate their decision to parents before Monday to enable them make the necessary arrangements.
Mr Ndoro explained that private schools will determine the amount of fees to charge on the basis of the needs of the schools and challenges faced by parents.
He however condemned some private schools that plan to discontinue learners who did not enrol for online classes.
“We are aware of the challenges that our parents are facing and that will be considered,” Mr Ndoro said.
He advised all private schools to allow students back without prejudice.
Mr Ndoro also called on the Ministry of Education and the Kenya National Examination Council (Knec) to create alternative examination centres for the affected candidates to enable them sit their national examinations scheduled for March next year.
There are 11,000 private schools in the country with a capacity of 2.5 million learners. Some 9,800 are primary schools with Sh2.3 million pupils while 1,600 are secondary schools with a capacity of 274,000 students.
The government has promised to offer Sh7 billion in concessionary loans to cushion private schools from the effects of the Covid-19.
Meanwhile, a judge yesterday ordered Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha to convene a meeting with the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) and other stakeholders to discuss measures implemented to facilitate the reopening of schools.
Justice James Makau directed Prof Magoha to convene the meeting within the shortest time possible to reach a settlement on conditions set for resumption of studies. The judge directed the CS to report to the court on or before October 14 on what the stakeholders agree with regard to how learning will be conducted. Justice Korir made the orders following a petition filed by a parent, Mr Joseph Enock Aura, challenging government’s decision to close schools indefinitely due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Mr Aura argued that there was no justification to shut schools, as children were at higher risk of infection in unsupervised open spaces and without any form of protection at home.
“All the projected mass deaths of Kenyans in consequence of Covid-19 infections have not materialised and, in hindsight, the projected infections and deaths were all based on wrong premises, theorems and fantastic assumptions,” Mr Aura said.
He argued that the indefinite closure since March was affecting learners yet the government had failed to put in place measures to ensure schools were reopened.
“Subjecting the children to such prolonged closures from school due to unfounded reasons, there has been severity of pain and suffering on these pupils and students, in tandem with the provisions of Article 1 of the Convention against Torture,” said Mr Aura.
Additional reporting by Joseph Wangui