Anxious parents accompanied by their children flocked to bookshops and uniform stores, where they had to queue for hours to purchase merchandise ready for the new academic year beginning tomorrow.
But as desperate parents thronged stores and banks in readiness for the new school term which begins at the second half of the year, traders recorded roaring business and some in the city could not cope with the high number of customers.
The new school term has piled more pressure on parents who have already paid school fees twice in the last six months and are still expected to pay one more time in October, before the year ends.
And as schools open tomorrow, learners who have been at home for the last six months will be joining Form One.
A cross-section of parents we interviewed expressed frustration about the high cost of education.
Parents who spoke to The Sunday Standard lamented that the one-week holiday was too short for them to mobilise resources including school fees, money to buy new uniforms and still feed their families.
Many parents said the ravages of Covid-19 have stretched their sources of income and emptied their savings coffers.
Leticia Atieno, a Standard Eight student at Embakasi St Benedicts Academy, was excited as she will be a candidate this academic year.
However, her mother Agnes Atieno did not share in her enthusiasm, complaining that the fees were too high for her to raise alone.
“I know for sure that I can’t raise all this money required by the school for fees, uniform and books. There is a programme called Mikato Safari that helps me from Mukuru kwa Njenga,” she said.
Atieno is among thousands of parents caught up in the last minute rush to prepare their children for the new academic year, just hours before schools open.
Meanwhile, retail stores selling school supplies have recorded booming sales, although shoppers are complaining about the high prices.
“From my side of the counter it is quite clear that we have many customers. We have not changed our prices,” an attendant at school uniform outlet said.
He added, “The challenging part is the rush and the lack of efficient services to the clients even as you try our best.”
Long before some outlets opened, some guardians had started queuing.
Others opted to abandon the mission altogether and instead report to work, hoping that some of the shops will be open today, and the queues will be shorter.
One parent, Mika Wambui from Kangemi, lamented that there was so much to do within just a week and that it got her at quite a disadvantage.
“Most of us are rely on salaries and have to wait until the end of the month for the payslip. We have not been paid.
“The school expects the child to report to school with every payment completed,” Wambui said.
She mused that the prevailing economic environment is harsh: “I am also a business person and I am trying to ‘hustle’ to raise money. It is not easy.”
Joy Kiprono a mother of three said, “Even though it is quite hectic to do all this there is nothing you can do as schools have to run, the children have to eat and learn.”