Some 10,000 learners have left private academies for public schools, Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha has said.
At the same time, Prof Magoha has defended learning under trees, saying the government has done all it can within the circumstances to fund schools ahead of reopening.
Magoha said Kenya had more classrooms compared to neighbouring countries, in an apparent reference to comparisons that Rwanda had constructed 22,000 classrooms ahead of schools opening, generating anger on social media after images of pupils learning under trees circulated.
“We have spent about Sh15 billion on maintenance of schools infrastructure, and another Sh8.2 billion to construct new classrooms funded by World Bank and other partners,” said Magoha.
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He said another Sh2.5 billion was contributed by parents in boarding schools towards schools improvement and another Sh2.4 billion spent to construct classes in secondary schools.
The government has been staring at a huge funding headache as schools opened, with heads pushing for additional money to plug huge deficits occasioned by Covid-19.
Most schools had not made hand-washing points and increased spaces to accommodate the learners.
School heads also asked for money to buy face masks for learners who report to the institutions without some.
On transfers, Magoha said data from around the country revealed massive enrollment of learners.
He said in Nyeri alone, some 1,000 learners had left private schools for public ones.
Private schools said yesterday they had recorded positive turnouts, saying they had not lost as many pupils as was previously feared.
“So far so good, and we are happy transfer of learners to public schools has not been as huge as was anticipated,” said Mutheu Kasanga, national chairperson for the Kenya Private Schools Association.
There had been fear that hundreds of thousands of learners would move from private schools to public ones because of added costs and high fees.
Magoha was addressing media in Nairobi yesterday when he also defended learning under trees. “Help us to encourage children to settle down and stop the confusion. Trees increase oxygen in the air, and oxygen is the only treatment of Covid,” he said.
The CS has come under sharp criticism for his comments on learning under trees, with many Kenyans saying it was a sign of lack of preparations ahead of schools opening.
Meanwhile, an alarm has been raised on children from neighbouring Tanzania crossing into Kenya through Isebania.
According to residents, hundreds of learners flock the country early in the morning to go to schools at Isebania border, raising fear that they could increase spread of Covid-19.
However, the Education multi-agency team, led by Migori County Commissioner Boaz Cherutich, yesterday said they had not received information that such a thing was happening. He assured parents that learners were safe.