Kenyan Private School Converts Classrooms into Chicken Farms

Category: Education/Family


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. coop / kup / (n) – a cage or small building where animals like chickens are kept

    The farmer made a new coop for his hens.

  2. rear / rɪər / (v) – to raise

    A lot of people in the countryside rear farm animals for a living.

  3. broke / broʊk / (adj) – without money

    I can’t pay my bills because I’m broke.

  4. occupied / ˈɒk yəˌpaɪd / (adj) – busy doing something

    No one was able to answer the call because everyone was occupied.

  5. expenditure / ɪkˈspɛn dɪ tʃər / (n) – the total amount of money spent on something

    The research team’s expenditures exceeded the budget.


Read the text below.

A private school in Kirinyaga, Kenya, has turned its classrooms into chicken coops because of the Covid-19 lockdowns.

Joseph Maina, the owner of Mwea [muhWEH-yuh] Brethren School, has converted his facilities into a chicken farm. Together with his wife, Maina is rearing over a thousand chickens.

Maina explained that he went broke because he continued to pay his teachers’ salaries even after his school had closed. He eventually ran out of funds and had to lay off his employees. He decided to turn to chicken farming to settle his bank loans. To have enough money for his latest business venture, he sold off one of his vehicles.

The pandemic has forced many private schools in Kenya to close down. Maina said that some schools are even at risk of being auctioned off if they cannot settle their debts.

Another school owner who was forced to find an alternative source of income after classes in the country were canceled is the owner of Roka Preparatory. He also converted his 23-year-old school into a farm and retained two teachers to help him raise chickens and grow vegetables. He said that aside from giving them a source of income, farming is helping to keep them occupied.

According to the Kenya Private Schools Association (KPSA), the government must come up with a solution for the growing financial problem of private schools. KPSA CEO Peter Ndoro said that the government must support private schools because they help reduce the government’s expenditures on education. Private schools educate about 20% of Kenyan children.

In comparison, public schools are in a somewhat better situation because the government is covering the salaries of teachers and staff.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think converting schools into farms is a good idea? Why or why not?
• Aside from farms, what else can private schools be temporarily converted into while they are not in use? Discuss.

Discussion B

• What do you think the government should do to help private schools survive? Discuss.
• Do you think the government should be responsible for sustaining private schools? Why or why not?