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Private schools borrow Sh14bn on Covid woes

Peter Ndoro

The Kenya Private Schools Association CEO Peter Ndoro at a past event.

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Summary

  • The institutions turned to commercial sources of funding after the government went silent on its promise to provide a Sh7 billon stimulus package to help them navigate challenges posed by the pandemic.
  • Data from the Kenya Private Schools Association (KPSA) shows some 331 private schools with a student population of 65,600 and that had employed 1,200 teaching and non-teaching staff have shut.

Private schools borrowed Sh14 billion in the eight months to December for survival as Covid-19 pandemic paralysed learning, forcing some to shut down permanently.

The institutions turned to commercial sources of funding after the government went silent on its promise to provide a Sh7 billon stimulus package to help them navigate challenges posed by the pandemic.

Data from the Kenya Private Schools Association (KPSA) shows some 331 private schools with a student population of 65,600 and that had employed 1,200 teaching and non-teaching staff have shut.

“Private schools have had to borrow over Sh14 billion from commercial sources during this covid-19 period from May to December 3,” said KPSA chief executive Peter Ndoro.

The government in August announced that it would provide a stimulus facility that would see private schools repay the loans at friendlier rates.

In the absence of the stimulus package, the institutions found refuge in commercial banks which they say gave “stringent conditions”.

“Even whatever they are giving us is not sufficient because they (banks) are not too sure whether our business will rebound and get back to normal,” said Mr Ndoro in an interview.

Some of the private schools accrued rent during the months when schools were closed and had to seek alternative financing to retain the premises.

Private schools just like their public counterparts have had to install hand-washing points and expand infrastructure to accommodate social distancing to combat spread of the coronavirus.

Kenya has 98,271 confirmed cases of the covid-19 and 1,710 fatalities, with schools reopening amid the social distancing challenges. Already, a number of private schools have increased tuition fees and levies such as transport charges in order to remain afloat.

The institutions attributed the up to 80 percent increase in transport charges to higher fuel and maintenance costs as a result of additional trips by their dedicated fleet of vehicles.