Schools break for mid-term ahead of fresh round of anti-Finance Bill protests

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The adjustment has now coincided with planned week-long protests against the Finance Bill, raising fears that students may be caught in the unrest or influenced to join the demonstrations.

Basic schools across the country have begun their mid-term break this week, raising concerns over learners' safety due to ongoing demonstrations against the controversial Finance Bill, 2024.

The mid-term break was originally scheduled for June 20 to June 24. However, it was later rescheduled to June 26 to 28, 2024 following severe floods in April and May.

The adjustment has now coincided with planned week-long protests against the Finance Bill, raising fears that students may be caught in the unrest or influenced to join the demonstrations.

Speaking to The Eastleigh Voice, some parents said they received abrupt notifications from schools over the weekend, instructing them to pick up their children for the mid-term break.

“Good evening our dear parents, you are hereby invited to pick up your son on Monday, June 24, 2024, from 8.00 am for midterm break. We apologise for the late communication. Otherwise good night,” read a message from an institution.

Belinda Moraa, a parent, shared her experience saying her son came earlier than was expected.

“Mine came on Saturday. He had called on Monday, he'll be going back on July 2, 2024. The safety of our kids is very important. I hope parents who have been surprised by the sudden change get fare to send them,” she said.

Another parent expressed frustration over the lack of awareness in schools.

“We were told to send fare three weeks ago. The problem with these schools is they never get to know what is happening outside the gates. My son was even wondering what we are talking about,” decried the parent who sought anonymity.

Other parents said they opted to pick up their children earlier for safety reasons.

“Yes, I called to request for him to come today instead of tomorrow (Tuesday). We can't gamble their lives,” said Zipporah Wambui.

Students at the Bus Station at the Nairobi CBD as they begin their mid-term break on June 24, 2024. (Photo: Justine Ondieki)

However, others noted that they haven’t received any notification from the schools, meaning the mid-term break will proceed as communicated.

“Mine will leave the school on Wednesday morning as communicated earlier, nothing has changed,” Rachel Wairimu said.

Transportation arrangement

Chairman of the National Parents Association Silas Obuhatsa had on Sunday urged schools to make transportation arrangements for students as they leave school, and asked parents to ensure their children's safety during the break.

“Teenagers are susceptible to peer pressure. It’s crucial for parents to monitor their children and ensure they don’t get involved in protest activities. We have asked the Ministry of Education to provide clear guidance on how student safety will be ensured, especially those travelling home during the demonstrations,” Obuhatsa said.

The planned Anti-Finance Bill protests dubbed #RejectFinanceBill are set to take place on Tuesday and Thursday this week with Gen Z’s vowing to 'Occupy Parliament' to stop the Members of Parliament from voting for the Bill.

The demonstrators have asked MPs to reject the Bill saying it includes provisions for various tax increases and economic measures which will burden ordinary citizens.

In addition to safety concerns, schools are also grappling with financial challenges. School heads have reported facing difficulties in managing day-to-day operations due to delays in capitation funds more than a month after the start of the second term.

Chairman of the Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association (KESSHA) Willy Kuria said schools did not also receive the full amount of capitation funds they were set to get for the first term.

“Day secondary schools are bearing the brunt as they rely solely on capitation to fund operations,” he said.

He noted that boarding schools are also struggling with delayed government funding and direct fees from parents.

Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu, while launching the fourth National Education Sector Strategic Plan 2023-27, assured that schools would receive second term capitation within June.

“We are at an advanced stage of ensuring that second term capitation will be released this month. No school will close because 50 per cent capitation was given to both primary and secondary schools,” Machogu said.

He said schools would receive 30 per cent of the capitation for the second term, with the remaining 20 per cent to be disbursed in the third term.

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