Parents bear brunt of the cancellation of calendar
Parents were yesterday grappling with the reality that children will remain at home for much longer after Education CS George Magoha announced that schools will re-open in January next year.
While the announcement came as a relief to some parents who feared their children could be exposed to the deadly coronavirus if schools reopened sooner, others not only expressed fears that their children would lag behind in studies but also lamented the financial burden of keeping them at home until next year.
Scores of parents interviewed by the People Daily also expressed concern that the prolonged closure of schools would result in increased number of teenage pregnancies.
National Parents Association chairman Nicholas Mayio while welcoming the decision by the government to delay reopening of schools asked parents to exercise extreme vigilance on their children’s activities during the period.
“Incidences of teenage pregnancies and substance abuse among learners have increased since schools closed. Parents need to take note of what their children are doing and offer them guidance,” he advised.
Maiyo also expressed fears that learners who rely on school feeding programmes mainly in Arid and Semi Arid Lands (Asals)and urban slums could suffer due to food scarcity during this period.
He, however, assured that stakeholders in the education sector were working on modalities of cushioning such learners from the pangs of hunger during the period.
“We are considering having a stimulus package from the national kitty to go towards supporting families of learners that rely on school feeding programme. Most of these families are from the informal settlements,” he said.
He, however, assured that the decision to delay re-opening of schools was in the best interest of learners, saying the it was made following wide consultations with all stakeholders in the education sector..
“As stakeholders, we explored different scenarios and settled on the decision that would ensure safety of all learners,” he said.
On concerns that parents who had already cleared school fees would be disadvantaged, Maiyo said any fees already paid will be carried over to the next year.
Maiyo further said his association was lobbying the government to waive school fees for most vulnerable students when schools reopen next year.
And speaking separately, Agnes Sagala, a mother of a Standard Eight candidate, welcomed the government decision to postpone the KCPE and KCSE examinations until the end of next year.
“It may seem like lost time but I consider it a blessing. When the pandemic broke, my son had been in school for barely two months. So if they were to do exams this year, he would not be adequately prepared,” she said.
She noted that even though her other children in Form 1, 3 and university have been learning online, the studies have been constantly disrupted because of lack of internet bundles and electricity.
The reopening of schools in September, she said, would have exposed the learners to great risk of contracting the deadly disease especially at this time when infections are surging.
Additionally, some education facilities are being used as isolation centres, thus increasing the risk of exposure for students.
Another parent, Sammy Ondimu, narrated how his five-year-old child who is a PP2 pupil wept uncontrollably when she found out that schools would resume next year, meaning the child would be forced to repeat the class.
Ondimu regretted that the uncertainties and change of school calendar occasioned by Covid-19 would have a huge emotional toll especially on children.