Private schools may soon be bailed out by the government following plans by the Education Ministry to give them concessionary loans to cushion them against the effects of Covid-19.
This follows concerns that many private schools could close permanently due to the effects of Coronavirus.
Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha said on Sunday that the reopening of learning institutions will largely be determined by the Covid-19 trends, even as he indicated plans by the ministry to provide Sh7 billion concessionary loans to bail out struggling private schools.
The CS, who was speaking in Kisumu County, said reopening of schools could be earlier or later than the projected January plan.
He said the government had no apologies for asking children to stay at home, noting that learners could become super-spreaders of Covid-19 should schools reopen before the curve is flattened in the country.
“It is safer for our children to be at home, why do you want them to go and get killed in the schools,” he posed.
He went on: “Kenya has no apologies for locking up schools to safeguard the children of Kenya because every child has a right to live,” he said.
Prof Magoha said closure of schools was informed by guidance from the Ministry of Health on Covid-19 infection trends and consultations with education stakeholders.
“What else do you want the government to do? It is not about an education…the question is do you want a dead child or a live child? So we are making a lot of noise about nothing,” he said at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital where he accompanied his Health counterpart Mutahi Kagwe for the daily Covid-19 status updates.
The CS, however, clarified that the tentative reopening date for the learning institutions remains January 2021. “I said we are opening in January 2021, it could even be earlier if we flatten the curve earlier…what reason will I have to keep the children home? We never said we are closing our schools indefinitely and I don’t know where that came from,” the CS said.
On concerns that private institutions are closing down, the CS said public schools have the capacity to accommodate those who will be affected.
Some private schools have shut down due to the prolonged closure and after parents refused to pay school fees.
But Prof Magoha said the Ministry of Education said Sh7 billion concessionary loans would be available to private school owners who qualify for it.
However, to save the institutions from shutting down completely, he urged parents with children in private schools to consider paying a proportion of the schools fees to keep them running.