Parents urge state to postpone school opening dates in flood prone area

KNAP Secretary General Eskimos Kobia (centre) appeals to the government to review school opening dates. [Denis Kibuchi, Standard]

The Kenya National Parents Association (KNAP) has appealed to the government to review school opening dates in areas affected by floods even as the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) in Kericho pushes for the release of capitation.

With some homes and learning institutions affected by floods, the association Secretary General Eskimos Kobia said the lives of thousands of children were in danger as schools reopen this week.

This came as the Meteorological Department warned of heavy rains in the coming days, with more than 70 reported dead so far and scores injured or missing.

Kobia called on the Government to establish the number of schools affected by the rains and change the opening dates for the safety of the students and teachers.

“We are keenly monitoring the ongoing rains and working with the Government for the safety of students as schools reopen for second term,” he said.

Speaking in Naivasha on Sunday, the KNAP Secretary General said that in some areas adversely affected by the rains, victims had camped in neighbouring schools.

He noted that with the rains, major roads, mainly in the rural areas, had been cut off further putting the lives of the students in danger.

“The issue is not only about reopening schools but how safe the students will be when travelling from home to the learning institutions,” he said.

Kobia revealed that an initial assessment done by the association had established that most affected families had lost school uniforms and learning materials.

He said that in affected schools classrooms had caved in, making the institutions uninhabitable, while in some cases, learning materials had been washed away.

“The education sector has been adversely affected by the floods, and we welcome the move by the government to form a multi-agency team to assist those displaced,” he said.

Kipkelion Knut branch Executive Secretary David Bore appealed to the Ministry of Education to release the capitation funds on time.

"As schools reopen for second term, we are demanding the immediate disbursement of capitation to avert a crisis in learning institutions," Bore said.

Learners will return to schools on Monday for a 14-week second term with half-term break set to begin from June 20 to June 23.

Bore said the government knows that schools cannot be run without money.

He argued that under the current circumstances, the directive by the Ministry of Education not to send learners home over school fee arrears is impractical.

The Knut official said head teachers want the government to review the capitation upwards to factor in the inflation rates.

The government had committed to allocate Sh22,244 annually per learner, which was to be disbursed in instalments of 50 per cent in the first term, 30 per cent in the second term and 20 per cent in the third term.

In January, the National Treasury announced the release of Sh31.34 billion. At the time, the government owed schools more than Sh87 billion for the 2022/2023 and 2023/2024 financial years.

Schools have been under pressure from suppliers for defaulting on payments, sparking concerns among stakeholders that the delayed disbursements may compromise the quality of education in the country, with day secondary schools, which fully depend on capitation, bearing the biggest brunt.

Meanwhile, in Naivasha, families living near Lake Naivasha and River Malewa have been told to relocate to higher grounds after water levels rose sharply in the last two weeks.

Friends of Lake Naivasha chairman Francis Muthui noted that all rivers, including the seasonal ones, were flowing into the lake due to heavy rains in the catchment areas.

“We are calling on residents of Kihoto who live next to Lake Naivasha and those near Rivers Malewa and Karati to start relocating before it’s too late,” he said.