SOS centres in Nairobi and Eldoret would not be closed after they were put up for leasing from next August, the organisation running them has clarified.
The schools are run by an independent Board of Trustees working closely with SOS CV International East and Southern Africa Regional Office and are usually meant for children from challenged backgrounds. Over a long time, the centres have been home to orphaned and needy learners.
In a notice carried in the dailies on Wednesday, the SOS CV Ke, the organ running the centres in the country, called for interested parties to submit their bids to lease the SOS Children’s Villages (CV) in the two towns as from August 2020.
The facilities up for lease are a kindergarten, a primary school and a vocational training centre in Nairobi. In Eldoret, the centres are a kindergarten, primary and high schools.
On Friday, Mr Walter S. Odhiambo, the National Director SOS Children’s Villages Kenya, denied claims of mismanagement in the two centres saying they would not be closed.
In Wednesday’s notice, SOS has said the centres would be operated by another party under close supervision by SOS.
“SOS CV Ke would like to clarify that we are not stopping or closing schools but engaging in End Of SOS Involvement (EOI) which refers to withdrawal of SOS CV from direct service delivery in areas where government and partners are best suited to offer those services hence eliminating duplication and inefficient application of our resources,” said Mr Odhiambo in a statement.
Mr Odhiambo also further clarified that no one would lose their jobs once the leasing of the centres is over.
Guardians and parents with learners at the Eldoret centre had earlier expressed concern about the future of the institution after an earlier notice was issued to the administrators and teachers indicating possible termination of key programmes and jobs.
A letter from the office of the SOS National Director sent to the Eldoret centre that was received on October 9 indicated an imminent redundancy of various jobs.
“We are no longer in a position to effectively address the education and health needs of all the children participating in our programmes through direct service provisions by SOS Education and Health facilities alone…the management has therefore resolved to programme reduction and closure in the health and education programmes in Eldoret and Nairobi which shall affect some staff members,” said the letter seen by the Nation.
The letter indicated that the situation had been occasioned by a reduced need for SOS services in the two towns, lack of sufficient funds to support the centres and also availability of similar services near the institutions.
“We would like to assure all our stakeholders and partners that SOS CV Ke is committed to comply with the International Senate’s resolution in the most transparent and humane way and will identify a suitable partner who will run these facilities and services to our target group at the quality we have been providing them or higher. As an organisation we are cognisant of the unemployment situation in the country and will be doing our best to persuade the suitable partner to absorb the all our current staff,” Mr Odhiambo said.
He said the decision to realign the programmes was made by the SOS International Senate, the highest decision-making organ of the SOS Children’s Villages International, that is tasked with formulating policy changes and guidelines.
SOS CV Ke runs five centres in Kenya. SOS Nairobi was the first to be established in the country in 1972. It was followed by others in Mombasa (1979), Eldoret (1990) Meru (2005) and Kisumu (2012). The other three will not be affected for now.
First Lady Margaret Kenyatta is the SOS Kenya Patron.
SOS CV Ke is an affiliate of SOS-Kinderdorf International, one of the largest private welfare organisation for children with centres worldwide. It is present in 138 countries.