The tentative proposal to reopen schools in September was received with scepticism, and to some extent, opposition. Kenya’s schools were closed in March following the first Covid-19 case.
Schools’ closure was an absolute necessity as a precautionary measure to stem further spread of coronavirus since it is transmitted through contact and proximity to an infected person.
Given the high number of learners, schools would have been the ideal breeding grounds. Yet, even as schools were being closed, the initial plan was to reopen them in June.
However, the situation did not allow, which led to the hope that schools could reopen in September. That now seems unlikely with the exponential rise in the numbers of those who have tested positive for coronavirus in the last few weeks.
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Having taken cognisance of this, stakeholders in the education sector believe schools can only open in January 2021 at the earliest, and even then, only after the coronavirus curve has been flattened.
While the government works to beat Covid-19, learners have too much free time on their hands. Without proper supervision, many have been up to mischief that could ruin their lives. Already, in the four months that students have been at home, cases of pregnancies in girls below the age of 19 have been reported.
In Machakos County, for instance, a survey by the Kenya Health Information System shows that hundreds of girls below the age of 19 have been put in the family way. A similar situation obtains across all the counties.
Without proper supervision and parental guidance, cases of drug use among the youth, which could easily lead to drug addiction with dire consequences could, unknown to many, be on the rise.
Possibly too, some students are engaging in criminal activities, especially in urban areas where they could easily be enticed by criminals within estates. There have been cases of muggings in Nairobi that involved students.
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During these uncertain times, parental control must be at its peak. Where parents used to entrust their children to the care of teachers, they have to take on that responsibility now that the situation has changed.
Students should be encouraged to engage in productive activities but, more importantly, spend most of their time studying.
For the young ones, exposure to the Internet should only be under parental supervision. There is content on the web that must be kept away from children.