How Private Schools Dropped Chalk For Other Ideas

  • An image of a classroom
    Chicken being reared in a classroom at Mwea Brethren School in Kirinyaga county.
  • The Covid-19 pandemic has ravaged most sectors of the economy since it hit the country back in March, with private schools being one of the most affected.

    After months of closure and no income forthcoming, some private school owners were forced to convert their institutions into other businesses in order to stay afloat.

    Despite the phased reopening of schools on Monday, October 12, a section of institutions have been forced to permanently close with some of the businesses ventured into booming.

    An image of Whistling Thorn
    Whistling Thorn School in Kawangware, Nairobi that was converted into a residential apartment since the closure of schools back in March.

    Converting Schools into Rentals

    A number of private school owners turned their institutions into rentals to utilise the buildings left unoccupied by the students who were sent home in a move by the government to protect them from the deadly virus.

    Whistling Thorn School in Kawangware’s Dagoretti North Constituency is one such school that converted classrooms into apartments.

    The building was turned into 15 one-bedroom houses each going for Ksh.15,000 per month with Violet Waweru the proprietor not looking forward to reverting the building back into a school.

    Christine Kathukya, the director of The Rock Academy in Mukuru-Hazina slum in Starehe, Nairobi, also converted her school into a rental apartment.

    Some of the traditional vegetables Henrietta grows on her farm.
    Traditional vegetables, including skuma wiki growing in a farm.

    Turning School Fields into Farms

    In order to make an extra coin during the pandemic, some of the school owners maximized on the school playfields by converting them into farms.

    So dire was the situation for James Kung'u that he converted Roka Preparatory Primary School in Mwea valued at Ksh.800 Million into a farm.

    Kung’u revealed that before the pandemic struck he managed to rack in an annual profit of between Ksh.8 Million and Ksh.12 Million from the school.

    Among the vegetables grown in Kung'u's farm included, skuma wiki, spinach and cabbages and could earn up to Ksh.70,000 a day.

    File image of a chicken peg
    File image of a chicken peg

    Converting classes into coops

    Classrooms that were usually buzzing with students were turned into a chicken coop by some of the principals during the Covid-19 pandemic.

    Pastor Joseph Maina who is the director of Mwea Brethren Schools in Kirinyaga County is one such principal who made the headlines with the venture.

    Maina utilized resources in the classrooms as he used the blackboard to record the feeding and vaccination programmes for the flightless birds.

    Most of the proprietors went broke after continuing to pay teachers and support staffs a few months into the pandemic before pulling a plug on the expenses.

    Converting School Into a Mattress Factory

    Perhaps the most ambitious turn around came from Joseph Chege, the Director of Bright Light Girls High School in Njoro, who converted his school into a mattress factory.

    Chege acquired and installed machines for mattresses production in the school's dining hall and also turned the school field into grazing grounds for his flock of sheep.

    The school bus was also converted into a lorry after dismantling the body and using the chassis to fabricate and turn it into a lorry to transport his mattresses.

    Bright Light School which has been in operation since 2010 had 79 learners in 2020 out of which ten were Form Four students whom he had already registered as candidates for this year's national exams.

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