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Covid-19: Students lose whole year

By Mercy Asamba and Hillary Orinde | July 7th 2020 at 12:43:25 GMT +0300

There will be no national examinations this year following the outbreak of Covid-19 that has disrupted learning activities across the country, Education CS George Magoha (pictured) announced while notifying the public on the resumption of learning for basic education and tertiary institutions.

The 2020 Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) candidates will now sit their exams later next year.

Prof. Magoha said that all schools will reopen in January 2021, adding that the school calendar of this year will be considered lost following the outbreak of the pandemic.

The Minister said the decision was informed by the fact that "The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Kenya is on a steady rise, hitting 8,067" and that  "on July 6th 2020. The highest daily number of cases was reported on July 4th 2020 at

389."

Based on this disturbing trend, Prof Magoha said stakeholders in the education sector had shelved an initial proposal to reopen

basic education learning institutions in September for Standard Eight and Form Four candidate classes because  that would have meant having two Form One class cohorts in the 2021 academic calendar.
It would also have created equity challenges when only two basic education classes reopen and transition, while all other learners lose one year.

“Faced with this uncertain environment, the stakeholders have resolved to reopen all basic education learning institutions in January 2021. This is based on the assumption that the infection curve will have flattened by December 2020,” he said.

The Education Ministry said it will enhance e-learning to ensure students remain engaged while at home and explore innovative approaches to promote equity.

Teacher training colleges and TVET institutions, however, will be allowed to reopen from September 2020 subject to strict adherence to the Ministry of Health Covid-19 protocols.

The Magoha-led ministry added it would issue a comprehensive circular on the reopening dates while the Kenya National Examinations Council would issue revised examination timetables.

“Reopening of universities for face-to-face sessions will be on a case-by-case basis based on approved compliance with the Ministry of Health Covid-19 protocols. Universities should continue holding virtual learning and graduations for students who have successfully completed their programmes,” Prof Magoha said.

At the same time, Prof Magoha urged universities to consider phased re-opening to achieve physical and social distancing, especially in halls of residence, lecture rooms and dining halls.

The announcement follows consultations with stakeholders in the education sector in the wake of the pandemic.

The Covid-19 National Education Response Committee on Friday handed its final report to Magoha who handed it to the president the same day.

Magoha has been holding stakeholders’ consultations in the education sector and had promised that both the Education and Health ministries will issue and publicise guidelines on a gradual and progressive return to normalcy in the education sector by the Third Term beginning September 1.

Last week, stakeholders in the education sector met at Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development and agreed to re-open primary and secondary schools in January, fearing the surging numbers of the virus in the country.

There is concern over the World Health Organisation and Unicef recommendations that before re-opening, schools should put in place infrastructure that will allow only 15 learners in class to allow for social distancing.

Schools have remained closed since March 16 after Kenya reported its first case of Covid-19.

Yesterday President Uhuru Kenyatta directed the Education ministry to notify the public on the resumption of the 2020 academic year by today.

“Following consultations with stakeholders in the education sector, and cognisant of the surge in the rate of infections, the Ministry of Education shall jointly, with all the stakeholders in the sector, notify the public on the resumption of the 2020 academic calendar for basic education and tertiary institutions,” Uhuru said at Harambee House in Nairobi.

The stakeholders include representatives of the Universities Academic Staff Union (Uasu), Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut), Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet), Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU), Kenya Parents Association (KPA), Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (KESSHA), Kenya Primary School Heads Association (KEPSHA) and Kenya Private Schools Association (KPSA).

Parents, Universities Academic Staff Union, Kenya National Union of Teachers and Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union have all supported the suspension of learning until January, next year.


Education George Magoha KCPE KCSE Covid-19 Kenya
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