What one parent said as he took his two children for tuition at a private institution in Nairobi last week has baffled teachers there.
With no qualms paying the Sh8,000 per learner each week for tuition, the man told the teachers to “do what you want to do with them”.
A teacher at the facility, running secret holiday tuition told the Nation that the parent appeared fed up with the presence of the children at home, just two weeks after schools closed.
“We are stretch to capacity because of the many students brought in for tuition,” said the teacher.
As Education ministry officials continue with their countrywide crackdown on school holiday tuition, (at least 24 teachers have been arrested so far), parents are spending large sums of money for alternative methods of keeping their children busy.
The Nation has established that Bible camps, public libraries, talent schools and travelling clubs are among the option this holiday that is the longest in recent times.
Such places do not come cheap, but some parents are willing to spend and that has translated into brisk business for investors who have organised sporting, touring and educational holiday for youngsters.
The Wezesha Kids’ Club in Nairobi’s Lavington organises events for children aged between three and 12 years. They offer cooking, taekwondo, drama, exercise and skating.
Club director Martin Chege said that this year, parents have requested that the events be extended from the usual 10 days.
He agreed and reduced the daily fee per child from Sh1,500 to Sh800. So far, Wezesha has 20 children and Mr Chege said the number is growing.
He said: “We have parents who want to help their children grow skills because most parents have also realised that classroom education is not everything.” He has run the service for two-and-a-half years.
“We also have parents who just want to send their children away from home. Then there are parents who don’t have househelps or who have bad househelps and they want the children to stay somewhere safe for the day.”
Besides Wezesha Kids’ Club, Golden Start Initiative wound up its Nairobi camp on Friday after training learners on disaster awareness and safety drills. There is also the Hodari Club.
Gospel musician Reuben Kigame is also organising three-week-long music classes in Eldoret and a five-day young communicators’ workshop both in Eldoret and Nairobi.
Another organisation open for business is Peak Performance International, which has been marketing its three-day Candidates Performance Accelerator programme planned to run thrice between November 28 and December 7.
The cost is Sh35,970 to “help your child engage whole brain learning in their studies as opposed to the traditional left brain learning”.
Given the high cost in such place, it is felt the government’s offensive against holiday tuition is disadvantaging the poor.
Mr Nicholas Maiyo, the chairman of the National Parents’ Association, on Saturday said: “If there is tuition in palatial homes, the crackdown should also reach there. There should be no difference between a student at a public school and a private one If tuition is illegal, it should be illegal for everyone.”
Mr John Adipo, 64, a parent in Kisumu believes that well-off parents don’t feel the effect of the tuition ban.
“Parents were not consulted before this policy took effect. It is wrong to impose such a policy on poor parents while children from rich backgrounds are busy studying in highly protected environments,” he said.
A teacher in Kisii County, who wished to be identified only as Mark believes the campaign against tuition is engineered by the rich who want to block poor but bright children from excelling.
“I don’t think (rich) people keep their children in the house to watch cartoons throughout the holiday. They employ tutors for home tuition,” he said.
He said the government must find a system for the poor to get the best education so that they can be at par with those from rich families.
Holiday tuition was banned by law in 2013 and those who violate the ban can be fined up to Sh100,000 or one year in prison or both.
A teachers’ union head in Kisumu County thinks the ministry’s tight grip on holiday tuition matters this year is so brutal that teachers may strike.
Mr Zablon Awange, the executive secretary of the Kisumu branch of the Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers, faults the crackdown.
“Private tuition is done on a willing-seller willing-buyer basis. We condemn the manner in which teachers have been arrested and ask for humane treatment and respect,” he said.
The largest number of teachers, 21, have been arrested in Kisumu.
Nine teachers were arrested at MA Junior Academy on Tuesday. On Monday, 12 other teachers were arrested when they were caught by Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang’ conducting tuition at St Ann’s Ahero Primary School.
In Kisii, two nursery school teachers, Ms Zipporah Kerubo and Ms Lydia Nyaboke, were on Wednesday charged with conducting holiday tuition. They denied the charge and were released on bond.
“Tuition was banned and is illegal, but we are against the humiliation of teachers particularly in politically incorrect areas in Nyanza and Kisumu,” he said.
But the Kisumu Central sub-county education officer, Aloyce Mwita, vowed to ensure there is no tuition in the area.
“Parents should be warned against sending their children to schools for holiday tuition. Teachers must also stop pushing the pupils and students to attend the lessons. They must stay at home,” he said.
In Kisii, however, a proprietor of an academy in Nyangusu, who is running one-week tuition, said she has employed teachers who have waited long to be absorbed by the Teachers Service Commission.
“Let us be honest; they are human too and should have something to give their families during Christmas,” she said.
Kisii County’s education director, William Sugut, insisted that the government will not relent.
“The ban on holiday tuition was done after wide consultations and we are not ready to reverse it,” said Dr Sugut.
Meanwhile, parents are encouraging their children to visit libraries as they offer a serene study environment.
At the Meru National Library, children have been showing up in droves.
County librarian Richard Wanjohi said they open from 8 am to 6.30 pm. “We have been receiving about 100 to 150 students in the library daily and a similar number of pupils, which is much higher compared to other holidays. This is because most of them used to have tuition but now many visit the library for their revision,” said Mr Wanjohi.
Meru County’s education director, Willie Machocho said they are on the lookout for schools conducting tuition.
A parent in Isiolo County, Ms Fatuma Adan, said the holiday should be shortened next time while Mr John Mwenda said that, since he works during the day, he hires a private tutor for “secret” tuition in his house.
Reporting by Elvis Ondieki, Justus Ochieng, Magati Obebo, Vivian Jebet and Agnes Aboo