Authorities have been forced to embrace private home teaching that had been outlawed as holiday tuition is now the only option to engage students with the indefinite closure of schools.
Section 37 of the Basic Education Act prohibits holiday tuition and prescribes a fine not exceeding Sh100,000 or imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year or both. The law was enacted at a time authorities wanted to discourage burdening children with lessons during the holiday, but with schools that shut in March expected to reopen in January, even President Uhuru Kenyatta has extolled the importance of home learning at this time.
Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha explained the need to have children taught in small clusters in city estates and in the villages.
Magoha said President Kenyatta had suggested that teachers may assemble children around them for classes and other life lessons that may keep them busy.
The CS said teachers across the country should find a way of engaging the children.“As long as you are observing Covid-19 measures, there is no reason why you cannot assemble the children for teaching,” said Magoha.
The Standard has established that overwhelmed by the prolonged closure of basic learning institutions, parents are seeking ways of engaging the children. Teachers, especially those in private schools keen to make an extra coin, are conducting clustered teaching with some even invited to teach in homes.
Parents and teachers who spoke to The Standard yesterday said the long break was not an ordinary school holiday and asked Magoha to lift the ban to allow teachers engage the children. Primary and secondary school heads said they are aware of some local arrangements entered by parents and teachers to teach children in areas of residence.
Magoha said engaging the children must, however, go beyond classroom work to other life skills. “The president said he teaches children around him how to dig and create small farms. If the president can do so, who are you not to do it,,” posed Magoha.
The CS encouraged parents and teachers to seek ways of keeping children busy from within their areas as it emerged that many learners were engaging in various social ills.
“In addition to book learning, you take children through the university of life. There is so much that the teachers and parents can do as the children are still with us at home,” said Magoha.
The CS spoke when he outlined the education calendar that pushed opening of schools to next year. Magoha said to further ensure learners are engaged, the ministry will enhance remote learning through e-learning and also explore other innovative approaches to promote equity.
However, with the challenges of accessing online learning programmes rolled out by the ministry through the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD), parents have opted to local teaching arrangements. National Parents Association chairman Nicholas Maiyo yesterday said he was aware of private teachings being rolled out in various city estates and villages.
“We told them that as long as they observe social distancing and all Covid-19 protocols, they can engage the children,” said Maiyo. He, however, cautioned that parents through the Nyumba Kumi initiative must ensure teachers engaged are from the same locality.
“We must also be careful as not to allow strangers to handle our children because that can be exploited. Parents must stay alert to ensure the children are safe,” said Maiyo.
He also said teachers who work in public schools may volunteer to teach for free.“We still do not have guidelines for payments of such services and this may lead to exploitation if parents aren’t careful,” said Maiyo.
Private schools association Chief Executive Officer Peter Ndoro said most of the private institutions can no longer pay salaries to their teachers and encouraged them to seek alternative revenue streams.
“If parents decide to engage the teachers while observing Covid-19 protocols, we do not have a problem. We know such arrangements exist and we encourage it because this is not an ordinary holiday break, it is a health crisis break,” said Ndoro.
Secondary School Heads Association national chairman Kahi Indimuli said observing health guidelines must be the first checklist before any arrangements are rolled out between parents and teachers.