Education Cabinet Secretary Prof George Magoha has warned schools planning to bar learners who failed to register for online classes during Covid-19 recess saying such a move would be a criminal offence.
Magoha said that all the learners are expected to pick from where they left and will strictly follow the reopening schedule as they prepare for their examinations slated for early next year.
Speaking at Olympic Primary School in Nairobi, where he monitored reopening of schools; Prof Magoha vowed stern disciplinary action against private schools that would bar learners.
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“For the private schools where some people have tried to equate reopening with those who had online classes, we want to make it very clear, that all children will start from where they left. If you send a child home because the child did not register for online classes, then that is criminal. We shall come for you,” he warned.
The CS appealed to the teachers and schools to accommodate learners who fell pregnant during the Covid-19 recess period. He urged the teachers to “be empathic with the parents" adding "no parent should be ashamed of bringing a child to school.”
Magoha pointed out that such learners will be accorded an opportunity to continue with the studies before and after delivery.
“For those children who are pregnant, as we deal with criminals, may I assure them that they have nothing to fear. They should come back to school. Teachers should be empathic with them.
When the time comes they should be given the opportunity to go and give birth and after weaning they should come back and continue with learning,” Magoha said.
Magoha has also warned against sending learners home for school fees saying no child should be sent home on account of not paying school fees. He pleaded with school principals to ensure that all learners are given undeterred learning opportunity to make up for the lost time.
“I have said that as we comply with government requirements…for the boarding schools where boarding charges are charged...may I plead with our principals to ensure that no child is sent home on account of school fees both public and private schools,” Magoha added.
Magoha’s sentiments are in tandem with the recent statements by Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) Secretary-General Wilson Sossion, that pregnant girls should be given care in schools to aid the delivery and learning.
While addressing a press conference in Nairobi after chairing a meeting to establish gender support desks in schools; Sossion urged teachers to embrace all learners regardless of their situations.
“If a girl is pregnant, bring them back to school. We shall support them and even if it means giving the nutrition support until they deliver,” he said.
He added: “All girls and boys must come back to school regardless of the challenges and situations they have been.”
Last month, stakeholders’ meeting involving Teachers Service Commission (TSC), Ministry of Education and other state and private agencies set to motion the phased reopening after it directed teachers to report back to school in late September to prepare for reopening.
More than a week later, Magoha ordered Grade 4, Class 8 and Form 4 students back to classes after a 205-day break occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic.