Review academic calendar, State told over pandemic
Education stakeholders are urging the government to take a bold step and review the academic calendar if the Covid-19 situation in the country does not improve by next month.
A teachers’ union, head teachers and parents associations have called upon the Education CS George Magoha to postpone this year’s national examinations and form a post-Covid-19 committee to advice on education matters, if within the next four weeks the situation remains the same.
Speaking to the People Daily, the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet), Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (KESSHA) and Kenya Parents Association urged parents, students and teachers to brace for the worst scenario if Covid-19 spread is not combated.
“The minimum time that schools must open so that we can avoid suspending exams is early June, if we go past that, the exams will remain suspended and that means stagnation, no transition,” said Kuppet chairman Omboko Milemba.
Omboko said the cycle of learning will be interrupted because past June, it will be impossible to cover the lost time, finish syllabus, prepare candidates and administer the examination.
“CS (Magoha) should start planning post coronavirus and one way is by creating an education committee which will advice on what will happen like the Ministry of health has done,” Omboko said.
Kessha chairman Kahi Indimuli echoed Omboko’s sentiments revealing that if schools reopen by July, there will be 11 weeks lost hence a toll order to recover lost time in the remaining months.
On Sunday, Magoha pushed the re-opening of schools by a month, meaning the earliest schools will reopen is June 4.
He said the extension of the school holiday would not scuttle the national examinations - Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations.
“It’s high time for education stakeholders sit down and evaluate whether it is time we change the education calendar where first term starts in September,” Indimuli said.
He said this means there will be no transition for those schooling.
Indimuli and Omboko opposed the call by some quarters to have alternative mode of evaluating candidates put in place and candidates recalled early to complete syllabus.
“Our system is dependent on examination; exit and transition is on examination. Those calling for alternative way of evaluation are misguided because it is not captured in the Basic Education Act,” he said.
Indimuli also opposed the call to have candidates examined only for work covered as it will compromise the integrity of education hence education sector should deal and face the challenge as per the policy in place until they are changed.
“MPs suggesting they be given the examinations to evaluate them before being administered is unpalatable joke that should not be entertained. Parliament duties are not to moderate exams,” he added.
On his part, Omboko opposed partial reopen schools to let candidates prepare for national examinations, yet some of the institutions have been designated as isolation centres for Covid-19 patients.
“Testing is below 100,000 in the country hence we are not sure how wide the disease has spread. Teachers and students are not tested, no one should go back to school until its clear,” said Omboko.
The government has listed 460 schools, mostly boarding and colleges that would be turned into emergency medical facilities, with a bed capacity of 138,220, should the number of coronavirus patients balloon and overwhelm the country’s health facilities.
Parents Association national chairman Nicholas Maiyo said no parent would allow their child back to school before coronavirus is contained.
“The worry from parents is not education but what they will eat in time of lockdown,” he said.