Parents will know the exact dates their children will report back to school after President Uhuru Kenyatta addresses the nation today.
President Kenyatta will this morning attend the National Coronavirus Disease Conference with governors and other stakeholders and thereafter address the nation on the Covid-19 status.
He is expected to give a definite schedule for the resumption of learning for basic education institutions. Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha said last week that together with other stakeholders, they had made recommendations on reopening of schools that are to be communicated by the president.
Some of the recommendations by the Dr Sarah Ruto-led Covid-19 education emergency committee include primary and secondary school teachers reporting to work today in preparation for the reopening of learning institutions next month.
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This year’s Kenya Certificate for Primary Education (KCPE) and Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination candidates are expected to report first.
Two to three weeks after candidates return to school, the other learners would be recalled for a crash learning programme that will see second term work covered before the end of December.
Third term would be covered between January and March, with examinations done in April next year. Parents, through the National Parents Association (NPA), welcomed reopening of schools this year and called on the government to increase capitation to cushion them against the effects of Covid-19.
“We are ready for the resumption of learning next month. It will be costly for parents to forego for the whole year...But when children go to class next month, they will only pay fees for second and third terms,” said NPA chairman Nicholas Maiyo.
However, he said his organisation was negotiating with the government to give them an economic stimulus package. He advised school managers not to increase fees and called on parents who are asked to pay more to report to him.
“This crash programme is good for us but let school managers not take advantage of the situation. No one was prepared for Covid-19. Parents did not misuse school fees; they used the money on other crucial engagements,” Maiyo said.
He said parents support a phased reopening to begin with candidates and should the virus spread continue, then the rest of the learners won’t report back. Teacher Training Colleges (TTCs) and Technical, Vocational Education Training (TVET) institutes will also reopen next month. Preschools will reopen a month after primary and secondary schools.
CS Magoha has allowed universities to re-open in phases as long as they meet the Covid-19 protocols by the Ministry of Health.
“Use of technology is no longer an alternative but an acceptable way of doing business, including education. We may have delayed in reaching this realisation, but we have made significant progress since the Covid-19 pandemic hit the country in March this year,” Magoha said.
Even before the pandemic, he said his ministry had planned to deliver 30 per cent of the programmes in public universities through e-learning.
“This target was to be achieved over a period of five years through investment in the Open, Distance and e-learning model popularly called ODeL,” Magoha said.
Universities have also allowed science-based students to resume studies, especially those in the final year, to clear the way for them to complete their programme. Earlier, they had allowed medical students in their final year to resume learning.
ODeL is also being implemented in TVETs starting next month as part of the Covid-19 pandemic response.
There are 902 private and 203 public TVET colleges with a student population of close to 500,000.
Kenya National Association of Private Colleges (Kenapco) secretary-general Ekrah Ndungu, who is a member of the technical committee on implementing online learning in TVET institutions, said private colleges were ready for the programme.
“Our members have trained on Civid-19 protocols and we are ready for the reopening. Kenapco colleges are being trained by the ministry for free on ODeL countrywide,” Ndungu said.
She said allowing colleges to start tuition for students would alleviate some of the problems they have been facing.
“A total of 217 of our institutions have closed down since March. The colleges’ owners and teachers have no cash,” she said.