Parents encounter more pain as schools re-open
Thousands of learners trooped back to schools yesterday after the two-week mid-term break occasioned by the August 9 General Election.
Hundreds of learners jammed various bus termini in Nairobi to catch transport to various destinations.
However, cases of Public Service Vehicles (PSVs) hiking fares were not reported with most operators conceding that it was wrong to hike charges given the prevailing hard economic times.
“We appreciate that parents just like all of us are experiencing hard economic times. It is immoral to exploit the situation to hike fares,’ said an operator at the Tea Room matatu termini. The situation was, however, different in Mombasa, as parents lamented that bus operators had increased fares owing to the back-to-school rush.
Parents also expressed fears that their children may not be able to adequately cover the syllabus owing to the compressed education calendar. “These children will be required to cover what they would have covered in six weeks within four weeks. It is too taxing on them, especially, candidates,” a parent only identified as Elizabeth, said.
“At the beginning of the month, we paid exorbitantly for bus fares after the government closed schools abruptly. Remember this came shortly after we coughed out heavily for school fees and other expenses. We are now paying heavily again,” another parent, Pascal Katembo, lamented.
Mary Kahingu, whose children attend schools in Mombasa and Kakamega, demanded that fees be reduced owing to the time lost during the extended mid-term break.
“How is the time lost for learning going to be recovered, especially for people like us who have children in Kakamega and Mombasa where we are facing the uncertainty of postponed elections?” she posed.
In Embu, there were a handful of students returning to school. Some parents said they were still monitoring the aftermath of the just concluded election, adding that even with the announcement of presidential results, they are not sure whether there will be a repeat election.
In Kakamega, thousands of learners braved rains and chilly weather to return to school.
Several school heads said they were forced to relax their rules and allowed in students who had arrived late due to the rains.
“Many reported as late as 9 am but we had to let them in because we understood the weather situation that also affected some of our staff,” said Joan Kikechi, the Principal of Shiduha Day Secondary School in Ikolomani.
In Homa Bay, parents appealed to the government to exempt them from paying fees for the duration learners stayed at home.
The parents, led by Homa Bay Education Network chairman Julius Omuga, want the ministry to revise fees payment for the current term with a view to deducting the days when there was no learning.
“Parents are weighed down by the high cost of living, which is rendering them unable to pay school fees,” Omuga said.
In Kiambu, there was a slowed-down resumption to learning, with most parents saying they were yet to raise fees. Led by Lucy Wambui, the parents also implored the government to consider rescheduling the General Election date to avoid the conflict between the two events.
“The government should reorganise its diaries and if possible, schedule elections in December when we have our children at home for long holidays. This year’s election seems to have interfered with learning despite the fact that the normal academic calendar is not yet back,” noted Wambui.
Kiambu Sub-County Director of Education Roselyn Litaba acknowledged that due to the delay and this being a hectic term, schools will have to work to maximise the calendar and ensure they complete the syllabus. Litaba also noted that it would be difficult for the term to be extended considering the school calendar and national exam timetable already set.
Kiambu Township Primary School head teacher John Mwania said 90 per cent of pupils have reported back to school and he expects that by the coming week all learners will have reported back.
“As a school, we are scheduled to have a meeting with all teachers so that we can discuss the way forward and how we will be able to manage to cover the syllabus for the remaining term,” he said.
In Nakuru, most PSVs maintained their normal bus fares, unlike previous situations where they take advantage to cash in on the rush of reopening. In Nyamira, normal learning resumed in schools.
- Reporting by Roy Lumbe, Oliver Musembi, Reuben Mwambingu, Brian Malila, Mathew Ndung’u, Noven Owiti, Evans Nyakundi