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Bail us out of 450,000 workers lose jobs, private colleges say

By Augustine Oduor | July 20th 2020 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

Private colleges have appealed to the government for financial support, saying some 450,000 employees risk losing jobs due to the closure of institutions to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Proprietors of the institutions offering certificate and diploma courses say they are not able to pay rent, salaries or other utility bills, as they rely on fees paid by students.

“Private TVETs solely depend on tuition fees paid by students to run day to day operations and meet fixed financial obligations of rent and salary payments, and other operational expenditures, including servicing bank loans,” reads the report by the proprietors of colleges.

There are 825 private TVETs countrywide, with about 260,000 students.

“Private TVET institutions face loss of thousands of jobs. We request the government to save the sector by including them in the development partners' grants and affordable loans to prevent loss of more than 450,000 jobs of both teaching and non-teaching staff,” reads the report.

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Ahead of the planned reopening in September, TVETs management proposes that the government procures affordable standard e-learning system to enable them subscribe at an affordable fee.

They are appealing for zero-rating of learning gadgets like laptops and smart phones for TVET students.

The colleges also want internet made a public utility to make the bundles affordable to students.

The proposals are contained in a 10-page report by Kenya National Association of Private Colleges (Kenapco) issued by secretary general Ekrah Ndung'u.

She says the closure of the institutions has forced them to send staff on unpaid leave.

According to the report most of the institutions are accruing rent and other utility bills for premises not being utilised. “These colleges are on the brink of collapse, as the pandemic continues to ravage our country economically and socially,” reads the report.

It says private colleges offer direct employment to thousands of trainers or lecturers and non-teaching staff.

“During such global changes, the private TVETs sector needs government support to help the country achieve its agenda,” reads the report.

Kenapco argues that investors and parents in private colleges are taxpayers who contribute immensely in the economic development of the country.

“TVETS play a big role in providing labour that is needed to achieve the Big Four agenda and Kenapco shoulders the government’s responsibility of providing accessible, affordable TVET education,” it says.

Kenapco argues that institutions maintain high standards of hygiene in compliance with statutory regulations, with right occupational standards in compliance with public health inspections and guidelines.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has introduced additional areas, which we feel will help in improving our levels of preparedness as we look after our students in the future, like erecting hand washing points in institutions, sanitisers, disinfecting institutions and other measures to fight this pandemic,” reads the report.

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