Third Eye

Listen to parents’ cry over fee burden

Tuesday, July 27th, 2021 00:00 |
Pupils use tablets in class. Only one per cent could access computers during the long Covid-19 school break. Photo/PD/File

Students across the country are reporting back to school this week after one of the shortest term breaks, a move that signals the extra-ordinary times families are going through.

Most parents have decried the impact of Covid-19 on learning, saying they are going through one of the hardest periods as they try to eke out a living.

For some, the 10-day break was not sufficient to consolidate adequate funds for fees and other requirements.

As they started preparing to send off their children who are beginning new classes, those attending private schools coughed between Sh5,000 and Sh12,000 for a new set of text and exercise books.

To survive the hard times, parents, who have been unable to buy the books, have borrowed from friends, a proof that paying school fees will also be an uphill task.

Coming on the back of a period when close to a million Kenyans have lost jobs and livelihoods while many others are on half pay since the onset of the infections, it follows that paying fees may not be the number one priority.

While Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha purportedly reduced annual fees for some public institutions, the opposite is true for private schools.

Indeed, since the onset of the pandemic a number of confrontations have been recorded between the administration of certain private schools and parents, as calls for rationalisation of school fees gain traction.

We appreciate that private schools, like any investment, thrive on profits unlike public institutions.

However, as most parents who spoke to reporters said, the shortened terms should have an impact on the amount of fees charged.

Where students went to school for three months, that term has been reduced to two months as the number of school days are reduced in a bid to catch up on lost time.

However, many schools want to maintain normal fees amounts, illustrating greed on some of the owners.

Considering where the economy is coming from and what most parents are going through, a level of compassion is required.

Indeed, for some of the affected parents, only two options exist; they either bite the bullet, look for means to pay up or transfer their children to less expensive institutions, which may affect their performance.

With the economy not changing as fast as we may want, this decision may be important to make because in two months, the parents may still be forced to look into the same gun barrel.

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