15 January 2013

Kenya: Schools to Close for Party Primaries

Photo: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
Primary school children (file photo).

Public schools across the country are set to close on Thursday as coalitions and political parties prepare to conduct nominations ahead of the January 18 deadline.

This comes after the government through the head of the civil service Francis Kimemia made the announcement of the closure to pave way for the party primaries.

IEBC chief executive officer James Oswago had asked schools to close in order for parties to conduct the exercise without interrupting learning earlier this morning.

Several political parties had asked the ministry of education to close schools on that day to avail facilities for the primaries and to additionally keep students out of harm's way in the event of chaos.

However, parents, teachers and Education Minister Mutula Kilonzo opposed the move arguing that the closure would put a strain on the school calendar which already faces the challenge of closing for elections on March 4.

This announcement comes even as The National Alliance yesterday said it will not use schools for its nomination exercise scheduled for Thursday.

TNA's secretary general Onyango Oloo said the party will use churches, mosques, chief camps, marketplaces and other available public places but not learning institutions.

The party had initially asked the education ministry to consider having schools closed on January 17 so that the facilities can be used for the party primaries.

ODM had also made the same request saying the closure would also ensure the children were safe in case there was any chaos. The Amani coalition had settled on schools as polling centers saying that this will not interrupt learning.

Majority of the public schools are used as voting centers but teachers and parents as well as the Education Minister Mutula Kilonzo are unwilling to let the nominations disrupt the school calendar. The new term started last week with majority of the students reporting to schools by Tuesday.

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