School Reopening Big Question: Where are the desks, Why the delay?

Ministry desks and lockers. Image|Courtesy

It is eight days into the partial reopening of schools in Kenya, and the assurance of the ministry of education to parents seems to be denting.

The government through the ministry promised the safety of children from the novel coronavirus pandemic as learning resumes, allocating Kshs.1.9 billion for the supply of locally made desks and lockers to public primary and secondary schools respectively.

This was part of the move to ensure social distancing is achieved in classes, with primary schools expected to receive 360,000 desks at a cost of Kshs.900 million while secondary schools receive 263,157 lockers and chairs at a cost of Kshs.1 billion.

However, it appears that the supply has missed the October 19 deadline with many schools saying they are yet to receive.

A report from Nation indicates that the Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association led by Chairman Kahi Indimuli and the Primary counterpart led by Mr. Nicholas Gathemia confirms that the furniture is yet to be received in schools.

“We are waiting to receive the desks and lockers, but so far the ministry hasn’t delivered them,” says the two association heads.

The delay in supply of this essential learning furniture seems to be coupled with payment misunderstandings between the ministry and the carpenters.

The cost for the construction of each desk, locker and chair was set to Kshs.2,500 and Kshs.3,800 respectively, but a number of carpenters are demanding the cheapest price to stand at Kshs.5000. Some are said to have withdrawn from the tender, after citing low prices, which they say, would amount to low quality of the products.

A further worrying trend came from Education Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Zack Kinuthia’s sentiments on Tuesday, that the desks would be delivered by the end of the month.

The big question arising from these revelations is the surety of receiving quality desks and lockers on time or just another scam marrying the Covid-19 funds as earlier experienced.

A total of 622,357 desks, lockers and chairs were to be supplied to schools by October 19, but now the supply has been pushed to the end of the month.

See also: CS George Magoha, kindly halt ongoing closure of non-registered schools

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