Education is a guaranteed right under the Constitution of Kenya 2010 and a pillar to the economy of Kenya. Educator sector provides education, skills, social support for millions of children and students. The government has invested a lot in this sector and in particular through Free Primary education, Free Secondary educations, Bursaries and Higher Education Loans Board school loans
Schools, primary secondary and tertiary, were closed in Kenya due to the COVID 19 Pandemic on 16th March 2020. Since then schools have attempted various interventions to ensure learning continues for the children in Kenya.
The intervention of virtual learning although noble and innovative has been criticised as not effective due to limited access by majority of the students in Kenya. This is mainly due to poverty and internet access. The efficacy of the virtual learning platforms was also a factor. The way forward for the education sector is reopening of the schools to allow learn to continue.
However, the current trend of infections in the upward trajectory has made the Ministry of Education to issue the following directives on 7th July 2020 on the way forward for Education sector. The guiding principles for this decision were;
- Reducing Physical contact in learning institutions
- Reduced daily percentage of confirmed positives for 14 days
- Social/Physical distancing
- Handwashing, wearing facemasks and monitoring body temperature as minimum requirements
The Government directive on education reopening for both National and International curriculum is as follows;
- There will be no KCPE and KCSE examination in 2020.
- The 2020 Class 8 and Form Four students will sit for examinations in 2021
- The 2020 school calendar year will be considered lost due to COVID 19 restrictions.
- Enhanced remote learning to keep learners engaged.
- Teacher training collages and TVET Institutions will be allowed to open from September upon adherence to Ministry of Health COVID19 Protocols.
- Universities to continue virtual learning and graduations.
- Reopening of Universities for physical classes to be on a case by case basis based on compliance to Ministry of Health COVID19 Protocols. Phase re- opening to be considered.
- All institutions that re- open must comply with Ministry of Health COVID19 Protocols.
The CS Education explained the reasons for the above directives and no opening schools in September 2020 as follows;
- To reopen in September when the academic year starts in January means there will be two Form One groups in years 2021 academic calendar
- Opening for Class Eight and Form Four only will cause inequity in learning for other students.
- Transition of Class 8 candidates will not be possible due to lack of capacity in secondary schools for double Form One classes.
- The current Class Seven and Form 3 will be unable to cover the curriculum ready for exams in 2021 consequently no exams in 2021.
- Inadequate teachers to handle double Form One intake.
- Potentially increased spread of COVID-19 due to inter-county movement of students, teachers and parents.
- Resistance by parents against sending their students to school in September
The above directives are subject to change should the curve of infections for COVID 19 flatten significantly. Do you think the above directives are in the best interest of the child? What more can be done? How will parents manage with re-opening of the economy? Post your comments and reactions below.
(Source: Speech of CS Magoha on 7th July 2020)