What you need to know:
- The Nation also learnt that the ministry is considering changing the school calendar to begin in June next year to prevent learners from repeating classes.
- In the proposal, when schools reopen in October, they will resume for the second term while third term will start in January to March.
The government has asked parents who are unable to pay private school fees to transfer their children to free public schools when they reopen in October.
Also to be transferred are more than 45,000 learners whose more than 131 private schools were forced out of business by the Covid-19 pandemic and will not reopen next month.
“The government has made education free in this country for both primary and secondary school children, anyone saying they do not have school fees must understand that,” Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha said yesterday in Nairobi when he received a task force report on school reopening.
During the meeting, the Nation learnt that the task force and education stakeholders suggested that schools reopen a week earlier from the October 19 date that they had agreed on by Friday last week. The CS, who was visibly angry after contents of the task force report — now under lock and key — leaked, said only boarders will be required to pay boarding fees.
“Over 75 of the secondary schools are day schools whose tuition fee is paid for in full by the government. For those in boarding schools, we have asked the principals to address each individual case as it comes,” he said.
“If you take your child to a private school, it means you have money to pay. The private schools understand the challenges faced by parents and they will also handle each case as it comes,” he added.
Kenya Private Schools Association secretary-general Peter Ndoro told the Nation that the institutions will determine their school fees based on their needs as well as the challenges faced by parents.
“Each individual school will make a determination of their school fees based on their own formula. We are also aware of the challenges that our parents are facing and that will be considered,” he said.
Mr Ndoro also revealed that 131 private schools with a capacity of 44,000 learners and 1,300 teachers had given notice to the association indicating they are shutting down completely and won’t be able to reopen.
There are 11,000 private schools in the country with a capacity of 2.5 million. Prof Magoha said the task force had developed schedules for reopening which will be discussed by the larger national stakeholders’ committee chaired by Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i and his Health counterpart Mutahi Kagwe later this week.
The Nation also learnt that the ministry is considering changing the school calendar to begin in June next year to prevent learners from repeating classes.
In the proposal, when schools reopen in October, they will resume for the second term while third term will start in January to March.
The task force has also maintained a proposal to examine Standard Eight and Form Four candidates in April next year with results being released in May.
However, Prof Magoha said the actual reopening dates will be agreed on and declared by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Mr Kenyatta is expected to announce the official reopening date next Monday when he will address the nation.
Yesterday, the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) directed teachers to start reporting back to schools from today to familiarise themselves with the health protocols. TSC chief executive Nancy Macharia said teachers have until Monday September 28 to be in their respective schools.
“It is now time for teachers to report back to schools. We are asking teachers to continue being creative and innovative, and therefore must report by latest Monday next week,” said Mrs Macharia.
The TSC also asked teachers to ensure they work on syllabus coverage to recover the lost time.
Prof Magoha also allowed universities to recall final year students in the science, technology and mathematics (STEM) courses for face-to-face reopening.
He further asked teacher training colleges to start preparing for reopening in October.
“The teacher training colleges are key as they are required to prepare to admit the first group of teachers under the competency-based curriculum in May next year,” he said
Technical and vocational institutions (Tvets) opening dates will also be determined by the National stakeholders’ committee by end of this week, he said.
The plan comes as Unicef calls on governments, parents and teachers across Eastern and Southern Africa to urgently and safely reopen schools.
Across the region, of the nearly 65 million children remaining out of school, around one in two are not reached by any form of learning, the UN body said.
“Seven months into the pandemic, we must be very clear about the gravity of this crisis. We are at risk of losing a generation,” said Mohamed Malick Fall, Regional Director for Unicef in Eastern and Southern Africa.
“We see lost learning, rising violence, rising child labour, forced child marriages, teen pregnancies and diminished nutrition. A generation of children is at risk, and at the most critical time in our continent’s history,” he said.
Unicef’s call to safely re-open schools follows scientific evidence that shows children that are not super-spreaders of Covid-19, and are the least affected by the virus in the region, with a mere 2.5 per cent of cases attributed to children aged five to 18 years.