Private schools at risk as CBC cuts student numbers

Primary schools will have their populations reduced by two classes beginning 2023

In Summary

• Kenya Private Schools Association chief executive says an assessment conducted by the association predicts a drop by more than 10 per cent in two years.

• So too, school investment returns are expected to dip by more than 40 per cent.

Grade 3 pupils from Kiangungi Primary School in Embu East clean Kiangungi shopping centre as part of CBC assessment.
PRACTICAL LEARNING: Grade 3 pupils from Kiangungi Primary School in Embu East clean Kiangungi shopping centre as part of CBC assessment.

Primary schools education has been cut by two years from the current set-up, with the learners to be offloaded to junior secondary.

The changes have put private schools at risk of losing both learners and revenues, with the anticipated decline in student numbers.

The change takes effect in 2023 when the KCPE candidates under 8-4-4 system and those in Grade 6 under the Competency-based Curriculum will transition to secondary school.

The last cohort of the 8-4-4 is in Standard 5.

This means that by 2025, all primary schools learners will be under CBC.

Kenya Private Schools Association chief executive Mutheu Kassanga says revenues will greatly shrink. She predicts the drop to be by about 10 per cent.

She says returns on school investment are expected to dip by more than 40 per cent.

“It is clear that our private schools need to urgently reassess their operating approaches and adapt quickly to this developing situation,” Kasanga told the Star on phone on Tuesday.

Private schools solely run on direct fees paid by learners.

According to the latest data released by the Education ministry, there are 3,492 private schools in the country, educating 1.34 million students and employing more than 157,200 staff.

While public schools could be a bit safe from the effects of changing the education system as they are funded by the government, private schools may not be so lucky given they don't get state capitation.

The knock-on effect will be felt on teacher employment as some tutors could be laid off, Kasanga said.

She said some schools could be forced to consolidate some subjects, translating to more work for teachers.

Parents could also be forced to dig deeper into their pocket to fund their children's education as the operating costs will largely remain constant.

Kasanga says private institutions both primary and secondary will need to remodel their businesses.

One of the options is to foster stronger partnerships with universities

“I strongly expect that in the coming years, universities will seek to forge much closer ties with their private school cousins as they seek to increase and solidify their domestic student market shares,” Kasanga said.

"A mutually beneficial partnership model I believe should be embraced by the private school sector wholeheartedly due to the many exciting benefits it can bring."

She said the government should extend a customised student loan scheme to help stem the bleeding. The fund will act like some aid to the sector, she said.

“This plan would enable eligible families and schools (without any other recourse e.g. scholarships and bursaries) to still obtain quality private school education for their child and pay tuition fees back through the tax system over time and with interest,” Kassanga said.

The proposal is similar to the Higher Education Loans advanced to university students.