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School fees: Brookhouse parents get court reprieve

Parents and guardians of Brookhouse School on Thursday got a reprieve after the High Court ordered the institution to offset 50 percent of the third term’s schools fees as well as stop online classes for pupils in kindergarten up to those in year four.

Justice Weldon Korir issued the temporary order in the case in which parents of the private international school moved to the corridors of justice to protest against payment of full school fees during the ongoing Covid 19 pandemic as well as challenged the quality of online learning.

“Petitioners are hereby allowed to offset 50 percent of school fees proforma of term three of year 2019/20,” ruled Justice Korir.

Following the confirmation of Kenya’s first case of coronavirus on March 13, schools closed indefinitely and that period was recently extended by one month among measures aimed at stopping the spread of the disease countrywide.

Most schools, including Brookhouse, opted to continue learning via emails, WhatsApp and other online platforms such as Zoom. At Brookhouse, the school gave parents only 10 percent discount from the normal fees.

On normal school days, there is usually a wide range of activities that is counted as part of learning including swimming, educational trips, cultural events, awareness forums, sports, physical education, and laboratory experiments besides normal subjects taught as classes.

But now, all these cannot be done owing to the pandemic.

Instead, parents are supposed to support their children for the online learning through printing of teaching materials, teaching their own children, supervising them, scanning homework done and sending it to individual teachers and catering for internet costs as well as its availability.

For these parents, in the suit filed against the school, its directors, the education Cabinet Secretary and the Attorney general, they alleged that their Consumer rights have been grossly violated.

“The quality of education meted out through emails, unregulated online platforms and 20 minutes free Zoom lessons by the school is wanting and is not commensurate to the fees being paid by parents and guardians herein,” said Mr Ahmdenassir Abdullahi, their lawyer.

Should they win the case, they want to be allowed to establish a Parents Teachers Association for Brookhouse schools and that the education CS George Magoha be ordered to subject the institution to an inquiry.

They also want the CS to be compelled to immediately come up with rules, regulations and policy on standards of online learning under the Basic Education Act and that a bill should be taken to the National Assembly on capping of fees in private international schools in the country.

These will be besides the temporary reprieve already granted to them.

The High Court has given the sued parties time to respond to the case before a hearing set for May 13.