Schools to close for two weeks to create space for August elections

Education CS Fred Matiang’i receives a report of the special investigation team on schools’ unrest in 2016 from Dr Grace Mulei during education stakeholders’ consultative meeting at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD). [Photo: Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

Schools will close for two weeks to allow time and space for the August 8 General Election, it has emerged.

The Saturday Standard has established that Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i made the proposal Friday during a consultative meeting in Nairobi.

Matiang’i said all schools and colleges will be closed by August 4, a few days to the polls to allow parents to make travel arrangements for their children.

Term dates released in October last year by the CS indicated that schools would close for three weeks from August 4 and August 28.

“Closing dates for schools and colleges at the end of the second term should be staggered between July 28 and August 4, 2017. Parents must be notified of any changes to the learning calendar,” he said Friday.

Safeguard property

Education institutions will not be available for campaigns and strategy meetings by politicians ahead of the elections to safeguard property.

The CS said the ministry will collaborate with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) on the use of the institutions for the elections.

He said holding campaigns or political strategy meetings in institutions’ compounds is discouraged. Matiang’i said the schools may however organise structured civic education activities on national values, democracy, tolerance, peace-building and conflict-resolution during the campaign period.

“Students travelling out of school for official functions should be sensitised on national values, democracy, tolerance and peace-building,” according to the guidelines.

Under the new measures to ensure safety of students and learning institutions, the Education Ministry said only structured engagements between politicians and schools will be allowed.

“Interactions between political parties/politicians and educational institutions should be well-structured, formal and documented,” Matiang’i said.

He said the elaborate measures will ensure minimal disruption of learning programmes in all schools and colleges during the political season.

The directive comes three weeks after Matiang’i raised concerns over the safety of learners and property during political campaigns.

In his letter to IEBC chairperson Wafula Chebukati, the CS said that many schools had their property destroyed during the political party nominations.

“These actions are illegal and will certainly upset the operations of school programmes, including the opening of schools which begin next week,” he said in an April 26 letter.

During the campaign period, he said, everyone leaving and entering learning institutions must be vetted.

Provide security

Matiang’i said institutions’ management teams must work closely with security agencies and other State organs to ensure all-round security in their institutions.

“Education institutions must establish close collaboration with relevant Government ministries, including Health, Interior and National Coordination of Government,” reads the guidelines.

“Staff deployed to provide security in learning institutions must be competent. Suspicious persons, information and incidents pertaining to security matters should be promptly reported to relevant authorities.”

The ministry also wants schools to exercise caution on use of school buses and other vehicles entering or leaving the institutions.

“Learning institutions hiring public service transport for official functions should ensure the vehicles are not branded with political messages,” Matiang’i said.