Kenya: President Uhuru Kenyatta, British PM Boris Johnson in Virtual Meeting

President Uhuru Kenyatta and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson held a joint virtual meeting on Thursday where they oversaw an online visit to a Kenyan and a British school.

The virtual event brought together learners from Westlands Primary School in Nairobi and Cleves Cross Primary School in Durham County, North East England, through the British Council's Connecting Classrooms project.

The meeting was also attended by the British High Commissioner to Kenya, Jane Marriott, and Education Cabinet Secretary Professor George Magoha.

Speaking at Westlands Primary School, Mr Kenyatta said Kenya is putting in place measures to narrow the digital gap in schools and ensure that more girls have access to education.

The President said the Covid 19 pandemic has exposed the existing wide gap in schools that left millions of children, especially those in public schools, without access to education, with only a few able to access classes through internet platforms.

Digital learning

"We have to pick up on digital learning so that even when we are affected by the pandemic, all children get access education. We need to break the digital divide," said President Kenyatta during the virtual meeting.

The President said all children have a right to access education and affirmed that the government is determined to see all youngsters in school.

"I am on the issue of driving digital learning to ensure that no child will not be able to access education," said President Kenyatta.

Make up for lost time

On his part, Mr Johnson said there is need for governments to work together to bridge the digital divide and also the divide between boys and girls.

"We want to see concrete results and make up for the lost time experienced last year," he said at Cleves Cross Primary School, UK.

The coronavirus pandemic caused an unprecedented global learning crisis, with 1.6 billion children out of education around the world at the height of school closures.

The UK Prime Minister said through the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), they are working to ensure that 88 million more girls get access to education across the world.

"In some parts of the world, boys do not get same access to education as the girl children. We are working to ensure that both boys and girls get the same opportunities," he said.

Support girls

Mr Johnson said that across the world, there is a vast untapped resource -- girls -- whose education has been cut short or denied altogether and who could be leading efforts to pull their communities out of poverty.

"Supporting girls to get 12 years of quality education is one of the smartest investments we can make as the world recovers from Covid-19. Otherwise we risk creating a lost pandemic generation," he said.

The Prime Minister said he is working throughout the UK's G7 presidency to ensure leaders invest in girls and boost children's life chances around the world.

Speaking following the virtual event, Ms Marriott said Kenya and the UK are working together on the most important global issues, all put in place by the Strategic Partnership which President Kenyatta and PM Johnson signed in January 2020.

"I was delighted to see children back at school today, so happy and enthusiastic to learn. It was also a privilege to witness our two leaders as part of a live classroom link-up," she said.

Global education summit

The meeting comes, just two months ahead of Kenya and the UK co-chairing the Global Education Summit to raise money for education across the world.

The summit will be held from July28-29 in London and will be co-chaired by Prime Minister Johnson and President Kenyatta.

It aims to raise $5 billion (Sh 535.7 Billion) over the next five years to support the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) which seeks to get 175 million more children into quality education in 87 lower and middle-income countries

It seeks to make sure all young people have the opportunity to learn.

The event comes as the UK announced a Sh8.3 billion fund for a new programme to drive crucial research into education reforms, turbocharging efforts to get girls into school and learning.

The What Works Hub for Global Education will advise governments across Africa and Asia - including Kenya - on the most impactful and cost-effective ways to reform school systems and get girls learning.

Countries that will benefit are likely to include Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Kenya and Pakistan.

The UK has been the largest donor to the GPE, contributing 13 per cent of its income since 2005.

Kenya has been the largest beneficiary, having received Sh10.9 billion to date.

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