Kenya: Education Ministry to Draft Calendar On Phased Reopening of Schools

Nairobi — President Uhuru Kenyatta has directed the Ministry of Education to expedite ongoing consultations on the safe reopening of schools ahead of the anticipated relaxing of movement restrictions on Saturday.

Speaking when he delivered his Madaraka Day address, President Kenyatta asked the ministry to formulate a calendar on the gradual reopening of learning institutions which were shut in mid-March in a bid to avert the unrestrained spread of COVID-19 which has infected 1,962 people.

"I am hereby directing that the Ministry of Education fast tracks and finalizes ongoing consultations with all stake holders that will provide us with an appropriate calendar for the gradual resumption of education in the country," he said.

While acknowledging concerns expressed by parents and guardians of candidates sitting for national examinations, Kenyatta however emphasized on the need to put protocols in place to ensure safety of learners and teachers once schools reopen.

"I appreciate the anxiety weighing heavily in the minds of children and parents, especially those preparing for national exams but the guidelines should also include protocol to guarantee safety of children , parents and grandchildren," the Head of State said.

President Kenyatta's remarks come at a time the education ministry is reviewing a preliminary report on the reopening of schools ahead of further guidelines on current COVID-19 containment regulations expected to lapse on June 6.

Last week Friday, Education Cabinet Secretary Prof George Magoha received a report from the Education Response Committee on COVID-19, a nine-member team established to advise the government on the modalities of re-opening schools.

He said the ministry's decision on whether of not to reopen institutions of learning will be guided by advisories issued by the health ministry under the National Emergency Response Committee on COVID-19 .

"All stakeholders should therefore be prepared to face the reality of a likely extended closure of our schools, given that out government will never sacrifice the health of our children at the expense of an education that can wait to be offered at a later time when the safety and health of children can be guaranteed," he said.

The recommendations captured in the interim report will be tabled before the National Emergency Response Committee on COVID-19 for further consultations.

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