15 January 2013

Kenya: Public Schools to Be Shut Thursday

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

Nairobi — All public primary schools will be closed on Thursday to allow political parties conduct nominations.

Head of the Civil Service Francis Kimemia on Tuesday said it will be inevitable to shut the institutions because 85 percent of the polling stations are schools.

"Primary schools have been ordered to close on Thursday in order to allow nominations to take place without disrupting teaching and learning and also to avoid danger of compromising safety of children. Secondary schools programmes will however not be affected by the exercise," he said.

Schools are expected to go on a two-week holiday in March to facilitate the March 4 election.

"The IEBC has designated 85 percent of primary schools' facilities as polling stations. The Ministry of Education has planned half term school break during the period in question to allow IEBC to use school facilities for election purposes on 4 March 2013 which is a national function," Kimemia stated in a circular to education authorities in the country.

Kimemia said all the schools have been directed to ensure they recover the lost time within the academic calendar.

Kimemia assured Kenyans that adequate security measures have been enforced, in reference to assurances from the Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo who has pledged that the mini-polls will be peaceful.

Some political parties had initially said they will not conduct their nominations in public schools to avoid disrupting learning but with the directive from the government, they can now use the premises as is the norm over the past years.

The main political parties will hold their nominations on Thursday before the Friday deadline.

All constituent parties in the political alliances have pledged peace and also warned their candidates that they will be disqualified if they engage in any incitement and violence during the electioneering period.

They have also promised that nominations will be free and fair for all candidates.

Tough measures have also been put in place by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission, IEBC, the police, the Judiciary and the prosecution to ensure the law is respected.

Pledges have also been made with active campaigns educating Kenyans on the dangers of violence and also warnings that the law will be applied in full force to those caught engaging in unlawful activities likely to deter peace, free and fair elections.

Citing the lessons learnt in the 2007 election, most Kenyans hope for peaceful and democratic elections and the Thursday nominations will definitely demonstrate if this desire for peace will be realised especially in the main election on March 4.

Source: Presidential Press Service

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