7,000 private schools close down in 4 years


More than 7,000 private schools shut down permanently over the past four years. FILE PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCK

More than 7,000 private schools shut down permanently over the past four years, highlighting the struggles of running the institutions amid economic hardships posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Official data shows the number of private pre-primary and primary schools shrank by 7,058 or 26 percent to 20,147 in 2022 from the 27,205 institutions registered pre-Covid in 2019.

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

In 2022 alone, some 967 private schools closed down, at a time their counterparts increased fees, attributing the increase to rising inflation that eased to 9.1 per cent in December.

“The number of primary schools went down by 0.4 percent from 32,594 in 2021 to 32,469, mainly attributed to the decrease in the number of private primary schools by 2.1 per cent to 8,838 in 2022,” reads the Economic Survey.

A similar dip was in the number of pre-primary schools where numbers dropped to 38,483 from the 47,530 registered in 2019, pulled down by the private institutions that dropped by 6,838.

At the peak of the pandemic in August 2020, the government announced it would provide a stimulus facility that would see private schools repay loans at friendlier rates.

This, however, failed to materialise with the institutions finding refuge in commercial banks which they said gave “stringent conditions”.

The data shows the number of public primary schools increased by 345 to 23,631 in the review period, an indication that the parents affected by the shutting of private institutions sought refuge in public ones.

The Kenya Private Sector Association (KPSA) has in the recent past cited that some of its members were struggling to meet daily operational costs, pay rent and had lost teachers and other essential staff due to inability to pay salaries.

In January, private academies increased school fees by up to 47 percent at the start of the new academic calendar in a bid to protect their earnings from a surge in the cost of living.

The Economic Survey data shows the number of secondary schools went up by 39 or 0.4 percent to 10,502 in 2022.

The total number of pre-primary, primary and secondary schools declined by 2.7 percent from 83,747 in 2021 to 81,454 in 2022, mainly due to a decrease in the number of registered preprimary and private primary schools.

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