The government will deploy financial resources to enable the education sector to cope with the effects of Covid-19 pandemic even as authorities work on a plan that will help students recover lost time.
The money the government plans to direct to education will, among other things, be used to construct at least 12,500 new classrooms and improve related facilities, President Uhuru Kenyatta said yesterday.
Uhuru, in his state-of-the-nation address at Parliament, said the government will in the next two weeks unveil a plan that will help the over 10 million learners recover the academic time they lost when they were forced to stay home in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
He directed the Ministry of Education to announce the 2021 academic calendar within those two weeks.
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The president said all learners, except those in Grade Four, Standard Eight and Form Four will resume learning in January.
Uhuru appealed to MPs to ensure the discretionary funds under the National Government Constituency Development Fund are used to respond to the immediate and short-term needs of the learners.
He said infrastructure in the public day and boarding secondary schools was stretched and as a result students were suffering because of congested classrooms and dormitories.
“There is an urgent need for construction and equipping of more dormitories, classrooms and other amenities to facilitate further ease of learning for our children,” he said.
Uhuru said the ministries of Education, Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development will by December 1 issue a new set of building guidelines that allow the use of appropriate and cost-effective building technologies for schools.
President Kenyatta said no child will be denied an opportunity to access education, even for those who got pregnant during the period they have been home.
“No child will be left behind, even those that have regrettably transitioned into being young parents. A nation’s future is its children. As custodians of and trustees for future generations, it is our duty to protect, nurture and mould our children into responsible citizens,” Uhuru said.
“Through a combination of interventions, both policy and financial, involving the Ministry of Education, county governments and MPs, we shall have the necessary resources to address the infrastructure gap in our education sector conclusively within the next 24 months,” he said.
Uhuru said the new building guidelines for schools will ensure the country achieves transparent and standardised bills of the quantity that will guarantee value for money.
Meanwhile, Uhuru reiterated that his administration had, for the second year running, achieved the 100 per cent transition rate from primary to secondary school.
He also said the Competency-Based Curriculum rollout was still on course though with some challenges, adding that his administration would continue with reforms in the education sector.
“The journey to replace the 8-4-4 system with the new fit-for-purpose curricula is well underway and refinements are being undertaken in the course of its implementation. The next frontier in the quest to improve education in Kenya is enhancing quality of education, both in terms of physical structure as well as content,” the president said.
Uhuru said he shared in the pain and frustration of parents who have had their children at home for nearly a year due to the outbreak of coronavirus, a disease that started in Wuhan, China, last December.
The president said as a responsible government, they will ensure the health and safety of the children remains a priority.
“The gradual and phased reopening of schools that began with the examination classes is being carefully monitored at all levels to ensure that our young Kenyans are safe and secure as they continue preparing for national examinations. However, in the face of these undoubtedly impressive gains, we must guard against resting on our laurels,” he said.
The government closed down all schools in March following the pandemic. Already Grade IV, Class Eight and Form Four students have resumed learning under strict Ministry of Health guidelines meant to tame the spread of the disease.