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Low business as parents switch to back-to-school preparations

Many parents decided to buy school uniforms for their children early to avoid the rush. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

After Christmas and New Year festivities, parents are now faced with the responsibility of taking their children back to school after the short December holiday.

The second term school calendar ended on December 23 and the re-opening of the third term is today.

Most parents who spoke yesterday expressed their pains at meeting education needs amid the high cost of living. Unlike in the past when the first term begins in January, institutions are reopening for term three following changes occasioned by Covid-19 pandemic.

A spot check in Eldoret yesterday found a few parents already on early shopping on in readiness to take their children back to school.

In some bookshops and school uniform depots in Eldoret Central Business District, a hive of activities was witnessed. 

Susan Kimaiyo, a parent who was buying books for her daughter, said she decided to shop early to avoid crowding in shops from today.

In Nyanza, parents thronged various retail shops as they prepared to take their children back to school.

This will be the shortest term in the school calendar this year that is expected to last nine weeks.

Schools will be closing in the first week of March to allow for KCPE and KCSE that start on March 4 and 11.

In Siaya, County Education Director Nelson Sifuna said they have put mechanisms in place as they receive back Maranda High School students.

The students have been at home for nearly a month after a spate of fire incidents at the institution.

In Kisii majority of supermarkets remained packed as parents were out shopping.

Most parents complained of the high prices of commodities.

Susan Kimaiyo buying books for her daughter at a bookshop in Eldoret Central Business District. [File, Standard]

Mary Kwamboka, a parent at Rangenyo Girls, said 2021 had been a tough year for most parents.

"We have been paying fees after every two months. The price of basic items have gone higher. Even soap and petroleum jelly are becoming a luxury," she said.

In Mt Kenya region, Public Service Vehicles (PSVs) did a roaring business as the holidaymakers returned back to their normal bases ready for the loaded school year.

The leading PSV providers in Nanyuki, including 4NTE, 2NK, Murang'a Shuttle Service, MTN, Nanyuki Cabs Service, among others, had their booking offices crowded by commuters seeking to travel to various destinations.

Martin Wanjiru of Murang’a Shuttle Service said they have been ferrying hundreds of commuters back to the city from the Murang’a and Kirinyaga counties.

Some were lucky to get the Kenya Railways train from Nanyuki at a cost of Sh200 per person.

The train was fully booked ferrying more than 400 passengers who were alighting along the 178 kilometres between Nanyuki and Thika at the end of the festive season.

Peter Kamau said the fares offered by the train are pocket-friendly despite the time it takes to Nairobi.

In Nyeri, parents accompanied by their children thronged shops and supermarkets to purchase merchandise ready for the new school term. 

In Western, booksellers recorded poor business yesterday.

Parent buying school uniform at a depot in Nyeri. [Kibata Kihu, Standard]

A spot check by The Standard in Vihiga, Kakamega, Busia, and Bungoma counties showed just few parents bought pencils, exercise books and rubbers in some bookshops that remained open for the better part of Sunday.

Akaash Sisodia, the proprietor of Akaash Stationery Bookshop located within Kakamega town Central Business District said customers appear to have kept off.

“No one has come in to buy textbooks since morning, but that has been a tradition. Usually parents and schools would buy textbooks in bulky during the first term,” said Sisodia.

According to the businessman, public schools depend on books distributed by the Ministry of Education and never make orders for books from bookshops.

At Kohil bookshop in Kakamega town, there were no usual queues of people waiting for their turn to buy books.

Things were not different in Busia, Bungoma, and Vihiga where bookshops were deserted, with some people opting to buy stationery in supermarkets.

Bob Wekesa from Bungoma town said he has not been able to buy books for his children due to financial constraints.

Elsewhere, residents from Khwisero East launched an education kitty for supporting needy children in the area.

Jairus Amunga, the residents' spokesperson, said Khwisero East Education Fund will help them mobilise money that will go into paying school fees for deserving cases.

[Christopher Kipsang, Eric Abuga, Boniface Gikandi, Nderitu Gichure, Brian Kisanji and Jackline Inyanji]