Learners to remain in school despite Covid
By Augustine Oduor | October 30th 2020
There are no plans to send home Grade Four, Class Eight and Form Four learners over coronavirus, the government has said.
At the same time, national examinations for the 1.9 million KCPE and KCSE candidates set to be held in March 2021 will go on as scheduled.
Speaking yesterday in Nairobi, Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha stressed that learners who resumed classes three weeks ago should brace themselves for the exams.
“There are no changes and we are not planning as of this moment to shut down because of Covid-19,” said Prof Magoha.
“For now, the timetable for examinations remains and children should be urged to continue preparing.”
Under the revised school calendar, 2020 KCPE candidates are scheduled to sit exams starting March 22, 2021, just two days after the end of Third Term.
“Yes Covid-19 is spiking and it is not only in this country. What we are grappling with is whether to open for the other children or not,” Magoha said.
According to the timetable, the three-day examinations will end on March 24. KCSE exams will start a day later and will last for three weeks and three days.
Magoha said marking of the two national examinations would be spread between April 19 and May 7. Overall, it has been planned for the second term to start on October 12.
Learners are expected to break on December 23 for only a week after which they will start Third Term in January.
Separately, the government has said it will cancel tenders for artisans awarded part of the Sh1.9 billion to supply desks and chairs to schools if they delay starting work.
Magoha said the ministry will not tolerate artisans who do shoddy work leading to a delay in rolling out the school project.
“If there are people who are still playing games and they do not want to implement the tenders, then we will award those willing to work those tenders,” Magoha said.
He instructed education sub-county directors who are implementing the project to watch out for artisans who are unable to carry out their work.
“Give them (those doing a good job) more work. My whole team is active across the country monitoring the desk project,” Magoha said.
“I am now happy and I can assure Kenyans that some good work is being done.”
The development comes following reports that there is growing discontent over the low amounts that artisans who have won the desk contracts will earn from the project.
The Standard has established that some of the artisans, who won the contracts through their small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), are asking for higher rates.
It has also emerged that because of the low rates, some artisans are cutting corners to deliver substandard desks and chairs.
This has delayed delivery of desks to schools, long after the deadline lapsed.
“The delay of the delivery of desks to schools countrywide has been caused by the variation of the models by the contractors who have not met the requirement set by the government,” said Zack Kinuthia, Education CAS.
“Since we want value for our money, we have demanded that they manufacture quality desks that were agreed upon, and that is why there is a delay.”
The artisans said that the cost of assembling a desk and a locker is Sh5,151 as opposed to the Sh3,800 the government has allocated for the same.
Magoha had stressed that each of the primary school desks will cost Sh2,500 while lockers and chairs will cost Sh3, 800.
The costs have been agreed upon under the Economic Stimulus Programme for public primary and secondary schools countrywide.
The artisans however have argued that the stated prices are low. They want them revised upwards before signing the tender contracts.
Those who were interviewed said the cost of production has gone up, given that the Covid -19 pandemic has occasioned a rise in prices of raw materials.
A total of 622,000 desks, lockers and chairs will be manufactured and delivered to 30 schools in each sub-county.
Some 5,254 secondary and 5,136 primary schools are expected to benefit from the programme.
Primary schools were to receive 360,000 desks at a cost of Sh900 million, while secondary schools would get 263,157 lockers and chairs at a cost ofSh1 billion.
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