We have been dealing with a couple of weeks of uncertainty and face yet more. Schools closed two weeks ago to enable the general election to take place. Delays in announcing the results meant that schools went back a week late. Children out of school for whatever reason increases the likelihood of them going to the streets in search of food or money. We are glad to see them returning today but are worried that the election results are now likely to be contested and this could mean further disruption by way of violence or further election procedures. We have all gone through several weeks of worry and uncertainty dreading trouble and this has impacted businesses and communities all living in a state of 'stand by'.
An equally worrying issue is the constant increase in costs we are facing, especially the cost of basic commodities such as maize flour which has doubled in the past year. Basic foodstuffs are less affordable and the increased cost of fuel has a knock-on effect on most items. Although Kenya claims to provide 'free education' at both primary and secondary levels, this in reality is not the case. The tuition element of education is free but there are many other costs such as exam fees, purchase of books and paper and stationery, administration fees, desk fee (ie actually purchase a school desk), in addition to uniform, sports kit, shoes, lunch, transport and considerable boarding fees. Probably the majority of children in Kenya attend boarding schools by secondary level. This has been brought about by a number of factors including distance to school, tradition and the fact that in many families the parents are both working (often away from home). There are a few positives to boarding including regularity of meals, being in a safe environment, ability to study instead of being in a home without electricity,not having to travel long distances daily, not needing to do household chores during term etc. However, the downside of boarding is the increased cost to parents who are expected to pay the entire term up front, three times a year, and these costs have increased substantially. In addition, boarding students are expected to provide their own mattress, blankets, metal locker, basin, bucket, shoe polish, snacks, soap etc etc. All of these items have increased in cost in the past year.
The struggle for many parents is excruciating and leads to more children not attending school, dropping out or being moved to local day schools from boarding schools. This causes stress for the entire family and means we see these children on the streets and have more and more families needing our help to cover schooling costs.
Attached is an article setting out all this information.
Parents do all they can to enable their children to have an education which they see as their only possible escape from poverty and the sacrifices they make are becoming impossible to sustain.
Please spare a thought (and a small donation) to help children access their basic right to education.
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