Fees must be paid, school owners say

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Student-learning-at-home-with-online-lesson PHOTO/COURTESY

Parents with children in private schools will still have to pay tuition fees even after the Education ministry pushed reopening from May to June.

Schools remained closed for the better part of first term and will remain closed for at least one month of second term.

President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered all learning institutions closed in March to contain the spread of Covid-19.

A number of private schools have quickly launched online teaching and learning for their learners and continue to charge tuition fees for the home-study programmes.

Online classes have been going on in 60 international schools hosting up to 15,000 students. The country’s 15,000 private academies have also announced that they will be rolling out online lessons on May 4.

Although a number of parents have expressed concern with the amount of fees charged by some private schools, managers of these institutions yesterday said most of them would close shop if they were not allowed to implement innovative ways of learning supported by payment of fees.

Kenya Private Schools Association (KPSA) and the Kenya Association International Schools (KAIS) officials said their members still have salaries to pay, bank loans to service and utility bills to settle.

These, they said, are some of the reasons why private schools will continue to charge tuition fees.

However, according to the two associations, a meeting last month resolved that online learning fees be subsidized to lessen burden on parents and that all other charges be waived.

“We agreed that schools will offload all charges that are paid by parents when children physically attend schools such as boarding, transport, food, electricity and water charges,” said Mutheu Kasanga, KPSA national chairperson.

In addition to this, Kasanga said individual schools, based on their capacity and capability, will be expected reduce tuition fees by between 15 per cent and 50 per cent.

The two associations said with more than 400,000 staff, there was an urgent need to protect workers’ jobs and keep operations in the schools running. According to KPSA, more than 70,000 school workers have already lost jobs.

“Many guards, cooks, secretaries, messengers, teachers and other administration staff have lost jobs,” said Kasanga.

She defended the decision by private schools offering online learning to continue charging tuition fees, saying this was their sole source of revenue.

“These schools only get revenue three times a year in January, May and September through fees. If they do not charge a fee for the online learning they will close shop,” said Kasanga.

“International schools are not spared from these conditions and all other conditions that affect businesses in Kenya. Their overheads such as salaries, rent, loan commitments electricity are also alive,” said Jane Mwangi, the head of secretariat at KAIS.

She said schools are justified to charge tuition fees for online classes because they had invested in infrastructure to allow teachers to continue teaching.

On whether fees paid during this period will be deducted from second term’s fees, Mwangi said: “We are not removed from the Covid-19 reality. At that time we shall review the fees the best way we can. We are also parents.”

The private institutions said the directive by Education CS George Magoha extending closure by one month only addressed physical opening of schools but did not stop online classes.

“We expect learning to continue otherwise many schools will shut down because there are essential staff already working such as guards, secretaries and critical teams who must be paid,” said Kasanga.

Yesterday, the CS said he was not opposed to private schools charging agreeable fees for online tuition, but challenged parents to probe the quality of the content.

“If they (parents) are satisfied with the content I have no problem,” said Prof Magoha.