Kenya: Magoha - Schools Could Open in November If Measures in Place

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha (file photo).
6 September 2020

Some schools may reopen in November and the Ministry of Education will tomorrow start training heads of basic and higher learning institutions on health guidelines in preparation for reopening.

Sources in the ministry say that schools may have a phased reopening by November, allowing Form Four and Standard Eight students back to school.

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha said only three technical and vocational colleges were ready for reopening in line with the Covid-19 protocols. These include Rift Valley Institute, Eldoret and the Nyeri Polytechnic.

Five other institutions have made progress, he said.

Covid-19 protocols

"About 50 per cent of the institutions are on a trajectory towards reopening. What has annoyed me is that this is the sixth week, yet we have to keep on saying the same things over and over. Once we are ready we will allow the students to sit their exams," the CS said.

Prof Magoha said TVET principals were too slow in implementing the Covid-19 protocols.

Meru National Polytechnic Principal Geoffrey Rukunja was taken to task over insufficient water points in lecture halls and the dining hall.

"Institutions must ensure no one enters any facility without having sanitised. This is why sufficient water points have to be put up. There should be someone to ensure social distance is observed in the dining halls and if that is not possible, the table arrangement must be changed," Prof Magoha said.

Regional, county and sub-county education directors have been undergoing a similar training since Monday last week. Ministry of Education Director General Elyas Abdi opened the training in Mombasa and has been engaging the county directors virtually.

On Friday, Mr Abdi opened a regional education meeting in Lagdera and Balambala sub-counties in Garissa County to assess preparedness in schools there. Ministry officials, including the director of secondary education Paul Kibet and director policy and partnership Dr Silvester Mulambe, have also been going around the country to train.

Mr Abdi said the training should also cover college principals across the country.

Education staff in Western Kenya held their training on Friday while those in the Nyanza region will hold theirs tomorrow. Other teachers are expected to be trained before end of this month.

Running water

Schools heads are required to ensure adequate clean, running water and sanitation facilities in the institutions and procure water tanks where applicable. They are also required to develop the protocols on hygiene and social distancing measures before reopening

They must also buy disinfectants, liquid soaps, non-touch thermometers, face masks and first aid kits.

For learners who are below nine years, class teachers will be required to meet them at the institution's gate at the start of the day and escort them to the exit at pick-up times to limit the entry of non-school members in the institutions.

Assemblies, inter-institution competitions like games, drama, music, sports and other events that create crowded conditions will be suspended.

Schools will only be allowed hold class assemblies to pray, pass health messages and make announcements.

School heads are further required to renovate washrooms, toilets and bathrooms and ensure they ease congestion.

Each school will establish a Covid-19 response committee of not more than five members, including one learner and trainee, and a member of the non-teaching staff.

The Kenya Union Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) secretary-general Akelo Misori says the ministry must "firmly assure parents and learners that preparations have been done and that there should be no cause of alarm".

Mr Misori said there should be a visible efforts in schools of the interventions the ministry is taking to prepare them for safe reopening. Kuppet wants the ministry to release funds for the schools to prepare. The funds are yet to reflect in schools' accounts, a week after the ministry released a circular indicating they had been released.

He also said the Education ministry to issue a comprehensive circular on school funding addressing how infrastructure, social distancing, sanitisers and water tanks will be provided.

Additional reporting by David Muchui and Reginah Kinogu

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