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Confusion in Kenya Kwanza ranks worrying

Editorial

 

 President William Ruto is assisted by Education Cabinet Secretaries Ezekiel Machogu to don a gown during the 1st Graduation Ceremony of the National Defence University in Lanet, Nakuru on November 17, 2023. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

The apparent confusion being witnessed in the Kenya Kwanza government is on another level. It appears most decision-makers are not reading from the same script.

Barely hours after Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu announced yesterday that schools will reopen for the second term on Monday, President William Ruto barged in and suspended the reopening date until further notice.

Of course President Ruto’s directive is based on reports of continued downpour in the country, with indication that the coastal region is likely to experience Cyclone Hidaya.

For the last few weeks, we have witnessed huge destruction caused by floods as a result of lack of disaster preparedness. It is regrettable that it is President Ruto who had earlier trashed an advisory by the meteorological department on impending El Nino rains.

The Cabinet had just this week directed schools be reopened on May 6 only for President Ruto to beat a hasty retreat three days later.

On Sunday, Machogu altered the reopening date under the cover of darkness citing ongoing heavy rains. Machogu’s decision came at a time when his Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang had announced that the postponement of the reporting date would be done on a need-by-need basis, saying some schools had not been affected. This, too, was a pointer that the two officials were not reading from the same script.

The concerns Machogu cited six days ago for postponing reopening of schools still obtain. And in his circular issued yesterday, the CS acknowledged that prevailing weather conditions still pose accessibility challenges due to flash floods, swollen rivers and landslides, thus affecting the transport system for learners to and from school.

However, for the last six days, the government has not given any indication that it had obviated the risks Machogu had cited.

The discombobulated response by government agencies and ministries in the face of ongoing disasters has been alarming. In fact, there has been no clear funding interventions, with the government at times appearing to give lip service.

By yesterday, the Ministry of Education had yet to release capitation to schools. One wonders how school managers are supposed to mitigate the risks posed by floods without sufficient funding.

Some schools that had received learners on April 29 are now in a fix since the Education PS had said sending the learners back home exposes them to dangers of traveling under the current adverse weather conditions.

Conflicting directives and pronouncements by government functionaries do not inspire confidence in times of crises and disasters. The Kenya Kwanza government should put its house in order.

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