Kenyans to know date for schools re-opening today

Tuesday, July 7th, 2020 00:00 |
Education CS George Magoha. Photo/PD/File

Irene Githinji @gitshee

Kenyans will today know the roadmap towards the re-opening of learning institutions which have been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic since March.

This is after President Uhuru Kenyatta directed education stakeholders to provide guidelines for the resumption of this year’s school calendar.

“Following consultations with stakeholders in education sector and cognizant of the surge in the rate of infections, the Ministry of Education will jointly with all stakeholders in the sector, not later than tomorrow (today), notify the public on resumption of 2020 academic calendar for basic education and Tertiary Institutions,” said the President in his address to the nation yesterday.

This came amid reports that education stakeholders were still divided on whether or not re-opening of schools should partially commence in September or wait for January, next year.

Uhuru’s announcement that children below the age of 13 will not be allowed in places of worship fuelled speculation that only learners above that age may be allowed back to schools should the president allow resumption of education. 

Should that be the case, the government may only allow students in universities, colleges, secondary schools and Standard Eight candidates whose average age is normally 14 years  to resume classes.

Education Cabinet Secretary, Prof George Magoha is expected to clear the air this morning as he will be announcing the schedule for reopening. 

Magoha has called a press conference at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) this morning to release the calendar for the re-opening of learning institutions.

He has been categorical that the status of the coronavirus disease does not allow for a rushed decision for children to resume schools. Last week, Magoha gave indications that learners may have to stay at home beyond the proposed September date set for partial re-opening of schools.

Magoha maintained that schools could only re-open when the coronavirus curve flattens, coming at a time when the daily caseload has been running into hundreds. Magoha said schools will not reopen until such a time the infection rates will stop rising and stabilise for at least 14 days.

“The elephant in the room is the situation of physical distancing but we are getting ‘solace’ from the fact that the disease is still increasing and the bottom line is that we will not open until the disease has stopped increasing and stabilised for 14 days,” said Magoha, last Monday.

He said the Ministry has been continuously engaging stakeholders in working out the best possible strategies to employ in the sector.

Reliably informed

“As you are aware, a few days ago we had a peak of cases and we are in the hundreds. We have also been reliably informed by the doctors that the peak is likely to come in September and perhaps step down by January,” said the CS, after meeting education trade unions at Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) last Wednesday.

Magoha stated that many options have been developed towards organizing the school calendar and the Ministry is now narrowing down on them, informed by what is been happening at the moment.

“We are taking all those factors raised into consideration including the fact that the Government has taken the children to school using the 100 per cent transition and schools are a bit congested,” he noted.

Whether schools re-open or not, explained Magoha, will depend on achieving social distancing, which has been a key concern area for the Ministry.

Magoha met representatives from Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut), Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet), Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (KSSHA), Kenya Primary School Heads Association (Kepsha), Kenya Private Schools Association (KPSA) and Universities Academic Staff Union (UASU), who were in agreement with the CS that the decision to re-open should not be rushed.

He said the parents’ association has been networking across the country and their firm position has been that schools do not open until stability is achieved and that means until the curve is flattened.

Similarly, the Ministry met with Governors about two weeks ago and they also said they would not allow schools to reopen until the curve flattens.

The Ministry of Health has been insisting on observance of mitigating measures to avoid further spread of the disease, which has now hit about 40 counties.

The CS said that Secondary Quality Improvement Project (SEQIP) funds of about Sh8.2 billion they have received from the World Bank will go a long way in addressing the infrastructure challenge.

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