55,000 Students Stranded After Private Schools Shut Down

  • A teacher and students inside a classroom at Kawangware Primary School, Nairobi, on October 5, 2015.
    A teacher and students inside a classroom at Kawangware Primary School, Nairobi, on October 5, 2015.
    Daily Nation
  • At least 55,000 students in Grade 4, 8 and Form 4 are currently out of school following the closure of 207 private schools.

    Kenya Private Schools Chief Executive Peter Ndoro made the revelation adding that parents had been advised to transfer the students to other schools.

    "The number could even be higher, as not all schools are members of the association," he explained

    The affected learners reported to school on October 12 following the directive by Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha that schools to reopen, only to find the gates locked.

    Education CS George Magoha visiting a school in 2019.
    Education CS George Magoha visiting a school in 2019.
    The Standard

    In some cases, parents were left in shock after learning that the learning institutions had been converted into rentals. It is understood that most private school owners converted their schools into rental houses after being hit hard by the pandemic which kept children away at home for months.

    In Dagoretti North, Whistling Thorn Schools was among those that turned classrooms into rental houses, and asked parents to try enrolling their children in public schools.

    The classrooms at Mwea Brethren School in Kirinyaga county, which once resonated to the sound of children learning, are now filled with an orchestra of clucking chickens.

    Math equations have been replaced by a vaccination schedule as the owner Joseph Maina, had to turn to nurturing animals to make ends meet.

    Since private schools, which educate around a fifth of Kenyan children, rely on fees for their income, their enforced closure meant that they could not pay the staff, resulting in their permanent closure.

    With the rest of the learners expected to be asked to report back from October 26, the number of students scrambling to find new schools is set to cross the 300,000 mark.

    Hundreds of thousands of employees working in private schools have been forced to take salary cuts, ordered to take unpaid leave or laid off. 

    While focus has mainly been on teachers, the auxiliary staff that includes drivers, cooks, cleaners, watchmen, caregivers and finance staff have lost their jobs as their services are no longer required.

    It is estimated that private schools directly employ about 300,000 people.

    The closure of the institutions is likely to add to the headache of parents, who already are grappling with sending their children to back to schools amid rumors of a second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

    In the last week, 2,034 have tested positive, with Friday’s positivity rate recorded at 10%.

    Health CS Mutahi Kagwe during a press briefing in May 2020.
    Health CS Mutahi Kagwe during a press briefing in May 2020.
    Kenyans.co.ke