Ministry unveils Sh16b budget plan to avert Covid-19 effects on education
Irene Githinji @gitshee
The Education ministry has drawn a Sh16 billion emergency response budget to avert the effects of disruption of the school calendar occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic .
The kitty is expected to be funded through support from local education partners, Global Partnerships for Education, the government and other interested parties.
The response plan indicates that interruption of learning processes is likely to increase anxiety and uncertainty regarding national examinations as well as increased psychological trauma among learners, teachers and parents.
It further points to inequity in the ongoing online programmes as majority of learners do not have access to digital platforms due to lack of devices and internet connectivity at home; different levels of parental knowledge and attitude given that parents are supposed to support children in learning.
“Prolonged closure of schools could lead to child labour, school drop outs, child pregnancies and early marriages, loss of jobs and income for some non-teaching staff. There is likelihood to be discrimination and stigmatization of learners who would be affected and or infected,” reads the ministry’s plan.
“With measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 hugely reliant on information campaigns on hand washing and social distancing, messaging targeted for consumption by children is scarce if not downright non-existent,” it adds.
The ministry acknowledges that schools play an important role in protection of children especially girls in poor, vulnerable and marginalised communities.
Over 32, 000 schools have been closed, with over 18 million pre-primaries, primary and secondary school learners and over 150,000 refugees now confined at home and require home-based learning.
Similarly, over 300,000 teachers are at home and require support to help learners to remotely learn and ensure continuity of learning process.
Justifying the Covid-19 emergency plan, the Ministry states that some of the severe effects could be rise in drop-out rates, with young and adolescent girls being twice as likely to be out of school in crisis situations and face greater barriers to education and vulnerabilities such as domestic/gender-based violence when not in school.
The Ministry has since stated the need for seamless learning to ensure children do not lose out on essential learning times that could have an impact on their developmental milestones.