Kenya: KNUT, UASU Want Schools to Remain Shut Until September

Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) and Universities Academic Staff Union (Uasu) are proposing schools to remain closed until September 2020.

The two unions want the national exams be postponed and be administered in the first quarter of 2021.

Officials from the unions were speaking during a joint presser on Wednesday. Officials from the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Doctors Union (KMPDU), Forum for African Women Educationalists - Kenya (FAWE - Kenya) and Elimu Tuitakayo Network were present during the presser.

"Reopening of schools, colleges and universities must be transparent, phased and coupled with clear communication by government and public universities, colleges and schools, with the input of public health professionals, frontline healthcare professionals, educators, academic staff and the unions," they said in a statement.

The team was led by Knut Secretary-General Wilson Sossion and Uasu Secretary-General Constantine Wasonga and KHRC Executive Director George Kegoro.

The unions complained they had been left out of the Covid-19 Education Response Committee and did not submit their response.

In their submission to the National Emergency Response Committee, the team said prior to reopening of schools, the government with the support and input of stakeholders need to prepare critical policies, procedures and financing plans needed to improve schooling, with a focus on safe operations, including strengthening remote learning practices.

They said, based on the UNESCO guidelines for school reopening, the decision on reopening of schools should be guided by the best interest of the child and overall public health considerations.

This should be based on an assessment of the associated benefits and risks and informed by cross-sectoral and context specific evidence, including education, public health and socio-economic factors, the officials said.

"That an elaborate and solid plan on Occupational Safety and Health Assessment for all schools by Safety Consultants from the Directorate of Occupational Safety and Health be put in place," they said

They have also called for the government to do mass testing for all students and teachers of boarding schools before re-opening schools once the pandemic is contained and those who are sick be allowed to stay home until full recovery before resumption of learning.

They further want government to train and support teachers and lecturers on Covid-19 Compliant Pedagogy including support for gender, disabilities, vulnerabilities, and Covid-19 survivors.

Further, they have called on recruitment of more teachers and school workers to support the expected intensive teaching and learning.

On Saturday President Uhuru Kenyatta allocated Sh6.5 billion to the Ministry of Education for recruitment of 10,000 teachers, 1,000 ICT interns and improvement of infrastructure in schools.

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