Education Cabinet Secretary Prof George Magoha says the government plans to reopen schools but the decision rests on the country’s coronavirus infection rate and resources.
Speaking during the Covid-19 conference with governors and various stakeholders, Magoha said that the decision to reopen was not something he could do alone. He said he needs to consult and work closely with the ministry of health to ensure the safety of the learners.
According to the CS, schools are structured in a particular way that if hastily reopened, then a crisis could arise in conducting the learning process.
He said: “We have structures in school which dictate that if we are to not comply, we’ll have problems in school.”
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“…we must listen to what the physicians are saying. Even if we say that we are opening in 2021, it is not cast in concrete and iron...it will depend on the figures from the ministry of health.”
Cost of reopening schools
He said that despite the government’s preparation to reopen schools, it would cost almost an arm and leg to do so given the logistical requirements.
While pleading with the donors and the counties to step up in helping in preparedness, Prof Magoha said that masks and running water were mandatory for schools. While he acknowledged that some children can afford to buy face masks, he said that the government would be forced to buy re-washable face masks for children at a cost of Sh35 per pair which they can use for six months.
This he said, would require a joint approach from the national government to the counties and other stakeholders.
“If one expects the national government to buy the masks we shall require a billion shillings,” he said.
He praised the efforts of the World Bank and UNICEF in setting up handwash taps in some institutions of learning saying that such moves would help in adherence to the safety protocols.
Prof. Magoha said that looking back, he was pleased by the measures taken so far by his ministry despite the alarming rates of teenage pregnancy in the country, coming up during the closure of schools.
“I’m very proud that as people make noise about pregnancy, all our children are alive... I think alive is more than anything else,” he remarked.
He further revealed that there will be an all-inclusive interactive conference on September 14, in which various stakeholders will meet and discuss post-Covid-19 strategies. It is after this conference that the CS said his ministry will look at the virus curve after two weeks to make a decision.
“If by that time the curve has flattened, then we’ll be able to ask ourselves [questions like], is it necessary to keep children at home?” he posed.
The conference was opened by President Uhuru Kenyatta and entails reflection on the merits and failures in the war against Covid-19.