The National Assembly Education Committee has its in-tray full as uncertainty continues to cloud the resumption of learning in schools and colleges.
With national examinations cancelled and the official reopening of schools pushed to January next year subject to the management of the coronavirus, the committee must put pressure on the Education ministry to plan effectively.
Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha (pictured above) has outlined measures that must be in place before learning resumes in basic education schools and institutions of higher learning.
These include the provision of clean running water and soap for handwashing for learners and staff. Schools will also need to provide sanitisers, clean and sanitise frequently touched objects often, provide adequate space for social distancing and implement the mandatory use of face masks.
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Enforcing these health requirements will require the keen eye of the House team, which is chaired by Busia Woman Rep Florence Mutua.
Mutua (pictured), however, faces an uphill task, taking over the committee chairperson post at a time when the education sector has been adversely affected by a pandemic that has disrupted normal learning in schools, especially in primary and secondary.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has thrown the education sector into disarray hence the heavy task ahead of us. We will, however, give it our very best and shall work diligently with all the relevant stakeholders,” she said.
Her focus will mainly be on the measures the ministry is putting in place in anticipation of reopening of schools and other institutions of learning, she added.
Mutua revealed that Magoha is set to take the committee through the ministry’s preparedness measures among other issues on July 29.
The soft-spoken legislator, who is serving her second term, wrestled men to take up the position following President Uhuru Kenyatta’s recent purge of Deputy President William Ruto’s loyalists, which saw Julius Melly axed as the chairperson of the committee.
A die-hard supporter of ODM party leader Raila Odinga and who previously served in the departmental committee on Agriculture, Mutua must now rally the committee to address the realities of the sector.
The 58-year-old legislator has thanked Raila and the president for “the immense support in recognising women leadership in the country”, which she said saw her take over the helm of the committee.
Mutua is deputised by Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu.
She has exuded confidence that she is equal to the task ahead of her, saying she will help steer the education sector through its current upheavals by consulting with stakeholders regularly.
“We will be reaching out to all stakeholders in the sector to ensure we have good working relationship, more so with TSC and the teaching fraternity,” Mutua said.
“We have many issues to resolve, but I am hopeful we can do this in a harmonious way.”
She said the committee would update the House on the measures the ministry is putting in place ahead of learning institutions resuming operations amid Covid-19 challenges.
The committee has also lined up several pending issues, among them five legislative proposals for the sector.
“We have the petition on capitation and placement of students into private secondary schools, and another one regarding the funding of co-curricular activities in schools,” said Mutua.
There are also two Members Questions and three statements whose responses are being awaited from the ministry.
“The committee will also consider a report on inspection visits to selected universities,” Mutua said.