11 January 2013

Kenya: Schools May Shut Thursday for Party Polls

Education Minister Mutula Kilonzo now says that the government may have to postpone school activities next Thursday to allow political parties conduct nominations.

He says it will be inevitable to cancel school activities on the nomination day unless the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission agrees to extend the January 18 nomination deadline.

Kilonzo says that political parties are public institutions and should be accorded the necessary support by all public officers insisting that party nominations were not 'casual events'.

The minister said: "My request to the IEBC was that they consider extending the deadline to the January 20 so that nominations can be conducted on Saturday and Sunday but we have to make a decision. I will myself welcome after consultations that the two principals direct that primary schools be postponed for that one day."

Kilonzo who spoke at the ministry's headquarters disclosed that the Registrar of Political Parties will meet parties and Education Ministry officials on Friday to reach a decision on the issue.

Most political parties have scheduled their nominations to on January 17 which falls on a school day, and majority of the polling stations are primary schools.

He indicated that the school calendar will be interrupted for one week beginning February 28 to allow for the General Election to be held.

"The planned half term break is aimed at creating room for the government to use the school facilities for the election which is a national function. Half term is a normal event that is always factored in the school calendar and this year is no exception," he explained saying that in case of a runoff there would be further interruptions to the calendar.

He has urged the Inspector General of police to offer adequate security to schools in the Tana Delta to ensure that learning goes on uninterrupted despite clashes that have claimed lives.

"It is far better to offer security to our schools to so that learning continues...we should not treat Tana as an exception these things can happen everywhere so the best solution now that we have an Inspector General is to secure schools," he insisted.

He further called on the Treasury to expedite the release of Sh14.3 billion for disbursement in the capitation for free primary education and free day secondary education programs during this first term.

The minister further asked school heads to make sure that they display in notice boards within their schools funds received and how they are spent to enhance accountability.

Kilonzo said that the ministry had also set aside money to finance the Early Childhood Development Education (ECD) by paying the salary of one ECD teacher in all public primary schools.

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