Education stakeholders will meet on Monday to draft a new school calendar for approximately ten million learners as stress and worry hits parents over January fees load.
Primary and secondary schools heads on Friday said the adjusted calendar must have a similar funding formula as the government moves to regain the lost 7 months.
Parents also stated shorter school terms must draw fewer fees and urged the Government to cushion them from the severe economic conditions if terms will be longer.
“We must calculate, per week, what it costs to keep learners in schools and parents just made to pay for that,” National Parents Association chairman Nicholas Maiyo said.
A normal academic year contains about 40 weeks, with the 1st and 2nd terms divided into 14 weeks each. The third term which is shorter lasts for about 10 weeks.
The Government funds about Ksh22,244 fees per child every year, with day schools parents, expected to spend lunch fees of roughly Ksh9,375 per year.
Boarding schools impose a fee between Ksh40,000 and Ksh53,000 per child every year. Mr Maiyo maintained that should the timetable be made longer, the Government should put funding means in place to cushion parents.
“Most parents lost jobs and some who do businesses have lost income. And as was done with other sectors, parents will request to be assisted to see their children through,” said Maiyo.
The Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha has called stakeholders meeting for Monday to review the new school calendar as ordered by President Kenyatta.
Recommendations have already been hovered to reduce school terms period, have longer lessons and to appropriate weekends to formulate more study time.
Some have also suggested lessening holidays and compressing academic work to only teach crucial areas. Education Chief Administrative Secretary Zackary Kinuthia stated that fees will be adjusted to balance weeks learnt.
“No parent should be worried at all because we will not burden them. What we, however, need serious engagement on is what will happen on state funding,” said Kinuthia.
Parents have announced that with ineffectual funding from the government, learning institutions may pass on the costs to them even as primary and secondary school heads said the modified timetable must have a corresponding funding plan.
“Funding will be a major issue when schools open and the Government will have to explain how they intend to model the financing,” the secondary school heads national chairman Kahi Indimuli said.
He said the Ksh14 billion issued to schools was not sufficient, compelling heads to cut corners to plug shortages. The Primary School Heads Association National Chairman Nicholas Gathemia said the money was not sent to schools to provide for Covid-19 mitigation.
“No money was allocated per child towards Covid-19. We were only sent normal capitation and heads have had to work out ways of getting things done. This is unfortunate,” he said.
In the money wired to learning institutions, each child was allotted Ksh3,726 rather than Ksh4,426. Another Ksh700 was retained at the ministry to fund teachers employed by the Boards of Management (BOM).
Following the reductions, Kahi Indimuli said schools were simply left with Ksh3,226 to cater for the rest of expenses such as electricity, water and pending bills.
Speaking on 13th of November, school heads maintained that should the new dates be advanced in two academic years in 2021, funding must be open.
This is based on recommendations by some stakeholders that the remaining 2nd and 3rd term for Grade 1 to 3, Class 5 to 7 and Form 1 to 3 be covered between January and May.
This would witness another academic year start in June or July and end in December. Some stakeholders have also suggested a shift in the school calendar that would see all learners start the new school year in September 2021.
Under this recommendation, Grade 4, Class 8 and Form 4 learners, who are currently in school, would not continue classes in January 2021 after their 2nd term lessons end in December.
Alternatively, the rest of the learners in grade 1 to 3, class 5 to 7 and form 1 to 3 would be expected to begin the second term on January 3.
With all learners having covered 2nd term work, all classes would resume learning in May to complete term 3, paving way for examinations in July or August.
All learners would then begin a new academic year in Sept.