The future of about 55,000 private school learners dangles in the air after their schools failed to reopen last Monday. Teachers Updates has established that a good number of learners in form 4, standard eight and grade 4 are busy seeking admissions in various public learning institutions across the country.
The primary concerns of inadequate capacity come ahead of school resumption for all learners in a week. More than 200 schools have permanently shut down since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic that paralysed learning across the country.
School owners and managers have turned schools into agricultural and business premises while those who had rented have handed premises to landlords to the inability to pay rents.
Whistling Thorn School in Kawangware Dangoretti North turned the school into a rental apartment forcing learners to look for admission in other learning institutions.
In Mukuru Kwa Reuben, Nairobi, hundred of learners remained stranded this week after 15 schools got demolished to pave way for road construction.
Kenya Private Schools Association, KPSA, Chief Executive Peter Ndoro has admitted that 207 schools failed resume classes by on Monday last week noting that the number is just a fraction since some learning institutions do not belong to the association.
Schools that failed to reopen have advised parents to transfer their children to other learning institutions however much concern is the fate of standard eight pupils and forms four candidates who will have to sit for exams in new schools.
The transfer of children has also been a burden to parents as they buy new school uniforms for their children.
National Examination centres
The Ministry of Education is expected to work with the affected schools and the Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC) to ensure that all candidates sit for the national examinations o March next year as scheduled.
Perhaps it is time for the government to start investing more in public institutions to avoid the future crisis from emerging again.
Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the insufficient investment of public schools by the government.
Public schools are already overcrowded and are incapable of taking in their learners when they fully resume classes. Teacher to learner ratio openly expose the desperate shortage of teachers in the country.
Since the introduction of Free Primary Education in 2002, public schools have greatly overstretched their capacity with some public schools such as Mwiki Primary Schools in Githurai 45 in Ruiru, Olympic Primary School in Kibera, Nairobi falling in this category.
Classroom capacity in the majority of public schools ranges from 50 to 80 learners. More than 15 million learners are in primary schools according to the Ministry of Education Records. Statistics show that out of the total population of 18 million learners, 3.2 million are in pre-primary school.
Ten million pupils can be estimated to about 32,218 primary schools according to NATION as 8747 can be estimated to 5 million secondary schools.
2.5 million learners in 11000 private schools.
Kenya has a total of 2.5 million learners in 11,000 private schools.
Other learners are expected to resume school from 26th of October despite the Covid-19 cases increasing.
The Covid-19 health protocols suggest that a sitting at a distance of 1.5 metres from each other be adhered to. This has limited the number of learners to a maximum of 15 to 25 in most schools.
Grade Four, Standard Eight and form four leaners who reported last week have occupied nearly half of all classes in some schools. This means that other learners might be forced to study outside classrooms when they resume learning.
Private schools have been grappling with debts from suppliers as they struggle to remain afloat. Majority of them are unable to run their operations. In a desperate move, some have sold their properties and learning equipment to mitigate the situation as others have fallen on the auctioneer's hammer due to defaults on loans.
The financial shock has hardly hit school managers of private schools who have vowed not to relent on the issue of school-fees as they have bills to pay.
According to Mr Ndoro, parents must pay school fee since most of the schools are facing a financial crisis. “So far, 85 per cent of our learners resumed. However, we have some learners who didn’t resume.” He said.