That the 2020 academic year is now gone to waste was confirmed yesterday when Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha pushed the re-opening of universities and colleges to next year.
At the same time, Prof Magoha announced that the government would be coming to the rescue of teachers who are not on its payroll and other support staff in public primary and secondary schools to cushion them against economic hardships.
The CS made the announcement yesterday at Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) in Nairobi after a meeting with the Covid-19 Education Emergency Committee chaired by Dr Sarah Ruto.
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He met with stakeholders to deliberate on the current preparedness for the phased reopening of universities, Teacher Training Colleges (TTCs), and Technical Vocational Education Training (TVET).
Initially, tertiary institutions were expected to reopen in September.
The stakeholders resolved that the current situation regarding the Covid-19 situation has kept worsening, with an average number of new positive cases daily averaging 600 in the last one week.
He said a survey of all TTTs, universities and TVET institutions has shown that few of them have put in place necessary measures to comply with the Ministry of Health (MoH) Covid-19 protocols that can guarantee the safety of staff and learners once they reopen.
“I have led my officers across the country to inspect the institutions’ preparedness. I was at Machakos and Eregi TTCs recently, they are nowhere ready to re-open,” Magoha said.
The CS advised universities to continue offering virtual learning, examinations and virtual graduations but in strict adherence and observance of quality measures set by the Commission for University Education.
“Priority should be given to final-year students to ensure they can graduate. We need many doctors to graduate and join those in the field to fight the virus. The government will see to it that those who need practical exams are facilitated to finish their courses,” Magoha said.
He said the government will release the money to pay teachers employed by Boards of Management (BoMs) in public primary and secondary schools and other support staff.
“President Uhuru Kenyatta has directed me to work with the Treasury to see that the money is released in two weeks,” he said,” adding that those workers staying at home should now go back to schools and carry out their duties as they await the payment.
Magoha and TSC chief executive officer Nancy Macharia announced that government will roll out guidelines to guide teachers on engaging learners in the areas where they reside.
“My ministry and TSC, using a multi-agency approach, and in collaboration with chiefs and the Nyumba Kumi initiative, will implement a community-based learning approach where teachers will be mapped with learners to offer learning at no cost,” the CS said.
[The writer is a 2019/2020 Bertha Fellow]