Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha’s efforts to reopen schools in January 2021 may be hampered with the looming closure of nearly 11,000 private schools.
Private school owners have decried what they call the government’s decision to neglect them during the Covid-19 pandemic as public schools remain cushioned by the Ministry.
With parents set to transfer students to public schools, Education CS George Magoha’s first task will be to facilitate intakes and also reduce congestion in public schools. This comes at a time when social distancing is crucial to curbing the spread of Covid-19.
The CS in a July 2020 proposal recommended makeshift tents be set up in schools and more toilets and bathrooms be constructed. Beds will also be shifted from double deckers to single beds with students prohibited from sharing textbooks and utensils.
Magoha second task will thus be to weigh whether he should fund private schools or not. They are requesting for Ksh7 billion to aid them to navigate through the pandemic. This option is, however, seemingly off the table as the government remains tight-lipped on releasing funds for private schools.
Only Teachers Service Commission (TSC) registered teachers and those employed by the Boards of Management (BOM) have enjoyed the relief packages released.
If private schools shut down, the CS will then have to be ready for an influx of students in public schools, a third huge task which will heap more responsibilities on the Ministry.
“We are always ready to move as advised by the government. Remember when several private schools were closed down in 2019, public schools were there to accommodate more children,” the Kenya Primary Schools Heads Association (Kepsha) chairman Nicholas Gathemia stated on Wednesday, August 5.
More intake means more enrollment of teachers and more upgrade of public schools posting a fourth headache for Magoha. Gathemia added that this will depend on the rate at which the Ministry will disburse funds for infrastructure development.
Magoha’s fifth task will be expediting the upgrade of schools within a short period of time before reopening of schools in January 2021. On Monday, July 27, President Uhuru Kenyatta directed the Education Ministry to commence a transformative program to upgrade all basic learning institutions in Kenya.
The upgrade is also set to cost parents extra cost which will be chanelled through school fees.
The Ministry of Education shall expedite the roll-out of the eight-point stimulus program which targets to improve school infrastructure by various means, including the acquisition of at least 250,000 locally fabricated desks,” Kenyatta stated.
A solution for Magoha may be the online learning which a survey already indicated students are shying away from and the communal learning program targeting students stuck at home.
The new communal program will see classes undertaken under trees, in social halls and other community spaces with teachers on the government payroll leading lessons.
It is set to begin in September and has been widely perceived as a shift away from the digital learning program which has left many learners from low-income backgrounds disenfranchised.
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