REOPENING

Who'll protect parents from cash-hungry schools?

Hidden charges always crop up in fee structures.

In Summary
  • Another season of “other costs” is here.
  • Parents are helpless in the face of ravenous boards of management who school heads rely on to approve unmerited additional costs.
Pupils at a Migori county school.
DREAM TO DANCE: Pupils at a Migori county school.
Image: MANUEL ODENY

Education CS George Magoha has, after a season of flip flops, announced a phased reopening of schools, starting with candidates. The action could have been taken due to reasons beyond the ebbing of Covid-19 caseload as attested to by Health CAS Rashid Aman when he intimated that social distancing in schools remains a huge challenge.

More fundamentally will be how the government will cushion those who struggle to pay school fees. Hidden charges always crop up in fee structures, despite the government stating the cost of schooling. The government has always stated the official figure and even added a stern warning to school heads with a penchant for fleecing parents.

Schools heads have, as day follows night, gone ahead to sneak in weird vote heads that have nothing to do with learning. And that was in times of normalcy. The coronavirus pandemic has put a lot of pressure on schools to ensure the safety of children, teachers and other staff.

Another season of “other costs” is here. Parents are helpless in the face of ravenous boards of management who school heads rely on to approve unmerited additional costs. The government must therefore go beyond its usual rhetoric of warning teachers against hiking fees. Already, the priority of government seems lopsided as it spends too much on non-essentials while leaving out crucial areas.

At this time, if children are sent back home for lack of fees, chances are that parents who had all along harboured the hope of a January reopening would keep them till then. There is also the psychological element in normalising the learning environment. Six months out of class is no mean time for young minds. A lot of counselling may be needed to forestall any bad behaviour in schools. We must also not lose sight of a possible, even more acute resurgence of Covid-19.

Economic and political analyst