Cabinet meets on school crash programme
President Uhuru Kenyatta is today expected to chair a Cabinet meeting to discuss a crash programme for schools which will see the traditional mid-term breaks scrapped and the long holidays shortened once learning resumes.
The Ministry of Education has already presented the proposed tight programme for the 2021 school calendar to the Cabinet office ahead of the meeting this morning.
“Part of the proposed changes will see schools forego the week-long half term breaks and the normal holidays of up to a month reduced by at least two weeks,” an official told People Daily yesterday.
The proposals further suggest that reopening of learning institutions expected next month be done in phases to avoid congestion.
The examination classes, Standard Eight and Form Four, are expected to be first to resume learning possibly in two weeks time, followed by Standard 7 and Form 3.
Similarly, it is expected that reopening be staggered between October 5 and 19 as the coronavirus trend is observed.
Once schools reopen, learning will go on uninterrupted until towards the end of December, when students will be released for a two-week Christmas and New Year holiday before resuming in early January.
According to the programme, once schools reopen in January, learning will go on uninterrupted for two and a half months before the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) and the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examination candidates sit their papers around March 15.
The proposal is to have the form four examination administered immediately after the class eight candidates complete theirs.
Half term breaks
This means the 2021 school calendar will start around April 26 and yet again, there will be no half term breaks which normally last as many as eight days, while the traditional month-long holidays will be shortened, depending on what the Cabinet decides today.
“Teachers will be trained on crash programmes so that they can cover syllabus for the year in good time.
The proposal is to have the 2021 exams taken in December as has been the tradition in the past,” the proposals further indicate.
This will see the normal school calendar revert to the traditional January to November calender starting 2022, according to the proposals.
As this happens, the government is expected to closely observe the disease trends and in the event it is reported, action will be taken on the specific area.
However, today’s Cabinet meeting will extensively deliberate on this schedule and will either agree or reject it and come up with a new timetable.
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said yesterday that in the course of this month, the positivity rate had settled below five per cent but urged caution to avoid a second wave.
He said the Health ministry is working closely with their Education counterparts to see that certain protocols are put in place before reopening.
Kagwe said the Education ministry will observe strict guidelines and they are already ensuring this is achieved when schools resume.
“Let’s understand that the schools are not opening for term work, they are opening especially for the younger once so that they can get used to being in school.
They have been out of school for a long time and in a way it is also a way to see what to do as we move into next year; if there are challenges let’s face them now,” Kagwe explained.
The government has already ordered that schools used as isolation centres for coronavirus be vacated and fumigated by Monday next week.
The United Nations Children’s Agency (Unicef) has called on governments, parents and teachers across Eastern and Southern Africa to urgently and safely reopen schools, as the costs of continued school closures escalate across the region.
“It can be done. Safely reopening schools by the beginning of next month will give scholars a full term and vastly reduce learning losses.
A third term for learners presents the last chance to recoup learning losses for 2020 and avert dangers of permanent school drop-outs.
Re-opening will also reduce losses incurred by both parents and governments,” Unicef said in a statement.
The agency said its call to safely reopen schools follows scientific evidence which shows that children are not super spreaders of Covid-19, and are the least affected in the region.
Data from World Health Organisation (WHO) has attributed only 2.5 per cent of Covid-19 cases to children of school-going age of between five-18 years.