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State was mistaken in cancelling 2020 academic year

By Livingstone Eshitika | July 13th 2020 at 10:15:00 GMT +0300

As we continue experiencing the wrath of Covid-19, the world is gradually abandoning the previously assumed trepidatious stance and bouncing back to normal. 

In Kenya, President Uhuru Kenyatta eased a few tough measures he had implemented to allow some semblance of normalcy. However, the government’s decision to cancel the 2020 academic year exposes its incapacity to make evidence-based decisions.

There are multifarious reasons why the government should reconsider its decision on schools reopening.

First, recent research shows that there is a low risk of Covid-19 infection and spread among children. In as much as the government is trying to protect young learners from the pandemic, extending the closure of schools is not the best option. Covid-19 has been hard on all of us and when it comes to crafting recovery measures, assiduous learners should not bear the worst burden through elongated anxiety in completing their studies.

Second, most hard-hit countries such as Italy, Spain and South Africa have either opened schools or are planning to do so, latest by September. The government’s decision to extend schools closure is analogous to an outsider mourning louder than the bereaved. Undoubtedly, Kenya is among the countries with the least number of infections and deaths, yet the one with the most aberrant reopening formula. 

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Some people might argue that countries that are reopening their learning institutions have the capacity to uphold WHO measures such as social distancing. However, our peers such as Tanzania have more or less infrastructure such as Kenya, yet they are reopening schools.

The most professed fear is that in schools, children will fail to observe the stipulated prevention measures, yet the same children roam the streets, playgrounds and marketplaces freely.

Amidst the lifting of travel ban, the mingling among youngsters will be rampant, as those from the urban settings travel to their rural homes and vice versa. 

Livingstone Eshitika, a research consultant and a post-graduate student at JKUAT.

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