Kenya’s education sector is facing a looming crisis as thousands of private schools risk closure permanently.
Many are unable to pay workers and meet their rental obligations and with the school calendar suspended until 2021, an uncertain future awaits.
And as CGTN’s Robert Nagila reports, once filled with sounds of children playing Now…. silence rings the air at the little paws Kindergarten playground in Kenya’s capital Nairobi.
The suspension of the school calendar by the government in March, to control the spread of COVID-19, the owner has now been forced to temporarily shut down.
Mugure Nderitu, Owner, Little Paws Kindergarten, Nairobi submits:”Schools operate based on cash flow and cash flow is based on students, if we don’t have students there is no way we will be able to meet our costs.”
The school has been able to stay afloat through donations from parents, but with the reopening date pushed from September this year to January 2020, tough decisions must be made if it is to survive.
“I am at the point now where I am now thinking what to do. Currently I still have all my staff and I need to figure out where to pay them from,” Mugure says.
The Kenya Private school association says about 100 schools have already shut their doors permanently and a majority of Kenya’s 11,000 private learning institutions are reeling from the impact of the pandemic.
Jane Mwangi, coodinator, Kenya Association of International Schools says that, “We are watching self sufficient teachers lose their source of livelihood, as well as school owners get into debilitating debt.”
However, the situation is further compounded by the fact that public schools cannot accommodate all the learners. A crisis with no agreed upon solution beckons in the education sector.
“There are some places that have 44 private schools to the one public school and so when these schools close we are looking at about a million, two million children who may have to join public schools and there is already over crowding there, so social distancing is not something we can achieve,” Jane Mwangi, coodinator, Kenya Association of International Schools.
Bailout talks are ongoing with the government.
Report by CGTN’s Robert Nagila