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Address parents’ fees fears ahead of school reopening


Editorials

Address parents’ fees fears ahead of school reopening

Education CS George Magoha. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • The reassurance from the Ministry of Education that the latest round of anti-Covid restrictions is not expected to delay the reopening of schools is welcome.
  • But care must be taken to prevent a repeat of the hiccups that cropped up in the January reopening.
  • The issues around overcrowding in schools must be addressed urgently, if we are to avoid a spike in infections.

The reassurance from the Ministry of Education that the latest round of anti-Covid restrictions is not expected to delay the reopening of schools is welcome.

But care must be taken to prevent a repeat of the hiccups that cropped up in the January reopening.

The issues around overcrowding in schools must be addressed urgently, if we are to avoid a spike in infections.

Granted, the ministry has done a lot to address the seamless payment of dues to schools under the free education programme, and the ongoing immunisation of teachers.

However, the government has largely been silent on the huge financial burden facing parents when the condensed school programme kicks in next month.

In the space of one calendar year, or 12 months, schools will run a back-to-back, four-term programme in an effort to claw back the time lost to the pandemic-enforced closure of 2020.

This means that parents have to raise an extra-term worth of school fees, and other attendant charges that are normally levied by schools every calendar year until 2023. The short turnaround time between school terms also means tighter deadlines to raise fees for parents.

This is at a time when many Kenyans have lost their jobs, or are grappling with reduced income due to the economic problems related to the pandemic.

Many parents are therefore silently struggling to meet the higher and more frequent demand for funds for their children’s education.

It may be prudent therefore for the ministry to come up with a plan that would see some annual charges spread over the four terms, rather than maintain the fees structure that was made for a three-term calendar year.

Although schools have not been spared the financial hardships brought by the virus, they must also appreciate the difficulties that many parents will face in raising fees and allow more flexibility in payment plans.

This will help eliminate the risk of children being sent away from school due to failure by their parents to raise fees.

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