Parents' fees dilemma as Magoha calls meeting to work out school calendar
By Augustine Oduor | November 16th 2020
Education stakeholders meet on Monday to draw a new school calendar for about 10 million learners as anxiety hits parents over January fees burden.
Primary and secondary schools heads yesterday said the adjusted calendar must have a corresponding funding formula as the government moves to recover lost time.
Parents also said shorter school terms must draw less fees and called on the Government to cushion them from the harsh economic times if learning sessions are longer.
“We must calculate, per week, what it costs to keep learners in schools and parents just made to pay for that,” said Nicholas Maiyo, the National Parents Association chairman.
A normal school year lasts about 40 weeks, with the first and second terms split into 14 weeks each. Third term lasts about 10 weeks.
The Government pays some Sh22,244 towards fees per child per year, with parents in day schools required to pay lunch fees of about Sh9,374 per year.
Boarding schools charge between Sh40,000 and Sh53,000 per child per year.
Yesterday, Maiyo said should the timetable be made longer, the Government should put funding measures in place to cushion parents.
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“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.
Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha has called a stakeholders meeting for Monday to discuss the new school calendar as directed by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Proposals have already been floated to shorten school terms, have longer lessons and to utilise weekends to create more study time.
Some have also proposed reducing holidays and condensing academic work to only teach critical areas. Education Chief Administrative Secretary Zack Kinuthia said that fees will be calibrated to match 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 told Saturday Standard that with inadequate funding from the government, schools may pass on the costs to them even as primary and secondary school heads said the adjusted 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,” said Kahi Indimuli, the secondary school heads national chairman.
He said the Sh14 billion released to schools was not adequate, prompting heads to cut corners to plug deficits.
Primary School Heads Association National Chairman Nicholas Gathemia said no money was sent to schools to cater 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 sent to schools, each child was allocated Sh3,726 instead of Sh4,426. Another Sh700 was retained at the ministry to pay teachers employed by the boards.
After the deductions, Indimuli said schools were only left with Sh3,226 to cater for the rest of vote heads such as electricity, water and pending bills.
Speaking yesterday, school heads said should the new dates result in two academic years in 2021, funding must be clear.
This is based on proposals by some education stakeholders that the remaining second and third term for Grade One to Three, Class Five to Seven and Form One to Three be covered between January and May.
This would see another school year start in June or July and end in December. Others have also proposed a shift in academic calendar that would see all learners start new school year in September next year.
Under this proposal, Grade Four, Class Eight and Form Four learners, who are presently in school, would not resume classes in January after their second term lessons end in December.
Instead, the rest of the learners – grade one to three, class five to seven and form one to three - would be recalled to start second term on January 3.
With all classes having covered second term work, all learners would return to school in May to complete third term, which would pave way for examinations in July or August.
All the classes would then start a new academic year in September.
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