Mixed reactions after government announces return to studies
Benrad Gitau and Christine Musa
The decision by the government to reopen primary and secondary schools for Form Four, Class Eight candidates and Grade Four pupils has elicited mixed reactions from parents and education stakeholders.
Parents hit out at the government for what they termed as inconsistencies on the exact opening date, failure to assure them on the safety of learners and lack of school fees.
Anita Wangari, whose daughter is a Class Eight candidate in one of the private schools in Nairobi, castigated Magoha for not taking into account the plight of parents when fixing the reopening gate.
“Magoha wakes up and decides the fate of students. We were all expecting schools to reopen in January 2021,” she said.
On Monday, the ministry of education released a statement on the reopening of schools on October 12, 2020 for children in Grade 4, Standard Eight and Form Four. The national exams were set for March.
Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen also questioned Magoha’s decision saying it was against an earlier directive by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
“I have a child in Class Six and another in Grade 4, what’s the logic of taking the Grade 4 chap to school on Monday while the older one is at home.
Didn’t the President say we should first establish “how” and together agree “when”? When did the meeting take place? Did I miss a memo?” he asked.
However, Borabu MP Ben Momanyi said the decision by Education CS to reopen Grade 4, Class 8 and Form Four was long overdue.
“We anticipate that the remaining students should be back to school in January. I highly suspect that the Covid-19 cases were exaggerated. Just look at these political rallies!”
The Kenya Parents Association chair Nicholas Maiyo welcomed the move urging stakeholders to support the government to achieve seamless partial school reopening.
“Its time to bite the bullet and unlock the education sector. The partial reopening of school is in line with President Kenyatta and what we recommended in Covid-19 Education Emergency Response Committee,” he said.
He petitioned the Ministry of Education to release the capitation fund to help school administrators to purchase sanitisers and other protective materials in school as learners resume.
“Parent should be prepared to buy reusable masks for their learners at school at Sh100 each.
The government will provide sanitisers and facilitate the social distancing aspect and water supply,” said Maiyo.
Part of uniform
He said the masks are part of the uniform and should be bought in school hence parents are not supposed to buy any type of masks.
The association claim that parents are supposed to foot facemasks cost contrast the report by National Assembly Health Committee Chair Sabina Chege who said the government has released Sh300 million to Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) for supply of the same to institutions.
On school fees, Maiyo said parents who had cleared the 2020 fees would not pay a coin.
“If a parent had paid a whole year’s school fees, they are good to go. No one will be charged but if we wait until January next year, they will be forced to pay afresh,” said Maiyo.
Other parents like Bernard Orwongo expressed concern over short notice indicating it will be a toll order to raise school fees in a week’s time.
“The CS has been speaking from both sides of the mouth and it has been difficult to know when we will take our kids back to school.
Also Covid-19 resulted in job losses and like my case the 50 per cent salary cut has strained my savings,” he said.
Jacktone Ochieng said Education CS George Magoha did not consider the fact that many private schools are permanently closed and can’t reopen unless they are financially supported.
On his part, Dr Lemayian Karugia urged parents to take the bull by its horn and support the initiative.