Varsities must open virtually in September, Ministry says
By Augustine Oduor | July 17th 2020
The government has directed universities and colleges to resume teaching and learning in September through electronic and distance learning programmes.
A circular from the Ministry of Education directs Vice-Chancellors (VCs) of public universities and principals of university colleges to submit their reopening plans for final year students and postgraduate classes.
“To mitigate the effects of Covid-19 and any other disruptions, the universities are required to enhance the resilience of education system by promoting blended and remote learning,” wrote University Education and Research PS Simon Nabukwesi in a July 8 circular.
The PS also directed that First-Year students be inducted virtually ahead of January admissions.
This means that universities must communicate with all the students placed by the Kenya Universities and Colleges Placement Service (KUCCPS) and induct them online.
The PS further directed that all universities table their academic calendars for the academic year 2020/2021 for phased opening starting in September.
“This is due to the fact that universities have different calendars (two and three semesters in each academic year), different levels of infrastructure, size of faculty, student population, course programmes, and preparedness to offer open distance and electronic learning,” said Nabukwesi.
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In his circular, the PS directs each institution to arrange a resumption of learning that would adopt blended teaching and learning methods, including online, e-learning and distance learning programmes.
“University Councils and management are further directed to ensure all students and staff accesses the blended learning model,” said Nabukwesi.
For universities and constituent colleges that will allow physical teaching to a controlled number of students, the Ministry wants VCs and principals of the colleges to ensure safe social distancing is maintained at all times.
Most of the VCs who spoke to The Standard yesterday said they will be cautious to initiate face-to-face teaching and learning saying they are making arrangements to deliver lessons online.
Vice-Chancellors Committee chairperson, Geoffrey Muluvi said each of the institutions will make their own opening arrangements for approval by the Education ministry ahead of reopening.
University of Nairobi VC Prof Stephen Kiama said VCs had already issued an advisory stating that September’s reopening for face-to-face teaching and learning would be impossible because Covid-19 cases are expected to peak in November.
The Education ministry maintains that reopening of universities may change depending on reports from the Ministry of Health, prevailing circumstances and increased knowledge of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The new circular from the University Education PS states that social/physical distancing is the most critical factor in ensuring safety and health of learners should institutions of higher learning reopen.
Nabukwesi directs all universities to ensure necessary approvals are obtained based on reopening guidelines.
The PS also wants all universities to form technical committees on Covid-19 mitigation to plan and implement all guidelines and protocols.
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