Kenya: Doubts Over Opening Date, Fate of National Exams Mount

The first term of the 2020 school calendar officially came to an end Thursday as uncertainty mounts regarding opening dates.

The term was cut short three weeks ago following the outbreak of Covid-19 disease that has paralysed education and other sectors across the globe.

A majority of public schools did not administer their end of term examinations, with just a few private institutions testing their learners via digital platforms.

After the first coronavirus case was reported, Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha suspended all inter-school events.

They included drama and music festivals, athletics, basketball, hockey and handball games, which were already at the county level.

This year's calendar released by Basic Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang had directed primary and secondary schools to close by Thursday.

Second term is scheduled to start on May 4 and end on August 7, while third term will open on August 31 and close on October 30.

DEFER EXAMS

However, the calendar could be greatly affected by the Covid-19 crisis. Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said the pandemic may last for months.

Already, Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) has called for postponement of this year's national exams.

The Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examinations are scheduled to start on November 2 and end on November 3, while the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams are set to start on November 4 and end on November 30.

Standard 8 and Form Four candidates registered for the exams in the first term.

The Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD), which has been airing broadcast lessons, has confirmed that the lessons will be replaced with fun games.

Acting CEO Joel Mabonga said the institute is in the process of reviewing the lessons they are offering.

TUITION ILLEGAL

According to the Basic Education Act, tuition during the school holidays is illegal and teachers and parents are not supposed to engage learners in academic activities.

With schools turning to digital and virtual classrooms, the Education ministry is yet to comment on whether they can continue during the vacation amid the pandemic.

Also of major concern to parents is how the fees paid for first term will be compensated. This term, the Ministry of Education released Sh32.5 billion to cater for the free day secondary school education.

The funds catered for the 50 per cent ratio, with each student receiving Sh22,240 every year. Parents in day schools did not pay for extra fees.

However, parents in boarding schools are required to make extra payments to cater for boarding and food for their children.

According to the ministry, parents with children in Category A schools -- national schools and extra county schools in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Nyeri and Thika -- pay Sh53,554, which totals to Sh75,798 per year.

FEES EXHAUSTED

Those in Category B - boarding schools and extra country schools in other areas - pay Sh40,535, bringing the amount of fees paid per year to Sh62,779.

Parents in private schools pay fees according to the respective institution's fees structure.

Private Schools Association chief executive officer Peter Ndoro on Thursday said the schools have spent the fees paid in term one to clear bills.

"Private schools entirely depend on the fees, meaning if this pandemic continues, we will not have money to keep us going," said Mr Ndolo.

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