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Private schools ask parents to pay full fees for e-learning

Some parents have lamented that their children’s learning institutions have started charging full school fees for virtual learning as the second term kicks off later next month.

Schools belonging to Kenya Private Schools Association (KPSA) and the Kenya Association International Schools (KAIS) last month said they had developed an online studies strategy to ensure that students continue learning remotely.

However, officially, primary and secondary school learners have been on April holiday and the commencement of the new term has been pushed back by a month.

Some private schools have already communicated with parents demanding that they pay normal school fees for virtual learning with some telling the parents to “consider it as normal schooling”.

“Following the Covid-19 situation and the uncertainty thereof, the school has embarked on an ambitious program of online lessons at Sh1000 weekly. Set to begin on Monday 27th April 2020. Time 9.30 a.m. (Monday -Friday). Requirements: A dedicated smartphone for the child uploaded with zoom app. Kindly treat these as normal lessons,” one of the messages read.

In another school, the parents were instructed that 2nd term opens on May 12 and directed them to pay tuition fees of between Sh30,000 and Sh50,000 depending on class/grade and that they should to log onto e-learning portal and teach children at home.

The situation has also been the same in other countries including in Nigeria.

Some of the schools are offering fee discounts of between 10 and 50 percent for the second term, taking into consideration students are taking online classes from the comfort of their homes.

Some of the learners are being taught via apps such as Zoom and Skype at the comfort of their homes, allowing them to interact and seek clarification from their teachers.

“Most schools are opening the term tomorrow, and the classes will be done virtually. We have been forced to take a giant leap into the future,” said a teacher from one of the schools who sought to remain anonymous.

According to her, the school has reduced fees by 15 to 30 percent because in this case, there is no physical interaction with the students but there are other processes involved including the need for desktop, laptops, and internet by teachers.

Meanwhile, parents are arguing that running costs in the school have been drastically reduced and that there was no need to request such fees.

“The fee discount should be more than 50 percent as the students will not use the school compound, stationery and other material provided by the school,” said a parent from one of the schools.

Private Schools Association chief executive Peter Ndoro last week said, unlike government schools, private schools do not receive capitation, making it impossible for them to continue existing.

Mr Ndoro said private schools have started engaging the government for financial aid after the coronavirus epidemic ends to enable them to run their institutions.

He said the association has developed a memorandum to be presented to the Ministry of Education on the financing of the institutions.

“It is going to be difficult to run these institutions without finances,” he said.

Mr Ndoro said so far, some private institutions who had rented premises will not be able to pay this month’s rent.

Last month, President Uhuru Kenyatta directed all schools and higher education learning institutions to remain shut to reduce the danger of the spread of the coronavirus across the country.

Following the closure, 15 million primary and secondary school learners are now at home.

According to this year’s school calendar, primary and secondary schools were scheduled to close by April 10 and the second term which has now been postponed for a month was scheduled to begin on May 4 and end on August 7 while the third term was scheduled to open on August 31 and end on October 30.