The Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) Secretary General Wilson Sossion now wants all national examinations postponed to next year following disruptions in the education sector due to the coronavirus pandemic.
While addressing the media earlier today from the Kenya Human Rights Commission offices in Lavington, KNUT, UASU and KMPDU unions now want the government to focus on flattening the curve before shifting focus to the national exams.
The unions and other organisations also want an assurance of the safety of teachers and learners before schools are re-opened.
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According to the United Nations guidelines on reopening schools, the best interests of children and overall public health considerations – based on an assessment of the associated benefits and risks to education, public health and socio-economic factors – must be central to national and local authorities’ decisions to reopen schools.
Further, the unions demand that the government should do mass testing for all students and teachers of boarding schools before re-opening and those found sick allowed to stay at home.
According to the Knut boss the lives of teachers and learners should be prioritized in the decision-making process, adding that “resumption of schools must be a negotiable effort and not a dictatorship.
“We would rather have all our children staying at home, safe and alive and repeating a year rather than sending them to school to die. The world will not come to an end if we suspend certain matters,” said Sossion.
“The national exams, KCPE and KCSE, are not a ticket to heaven. They can be postponed to a suitable time when the syllabus shall have been covered and when the curve shall have been flattened.”
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According to Sossion, countries that opened schools after flattening the curve are doing well in the Scandinavian countries but those that reopened schools before flattening the curve have suffered the consequences.
“We’ve heard of people talking about Form 4 and Class 8 reopening. These are human beings; the world will not come to an end. Children can repeat a class, better save lives first. Even if the exams are pushed to November 2021, if we can evade death, let’s do so,” says Sossion.
“Nobody in this country should gamble with the lives of learners and teachers. For now, open bars and test social distancing. KCPE and KCSE are not a ticket to heaven.”
He has further added that: “Salaries of teachers must be protected. No one, whether government or private entities, should use Covid-19 to hold the salaries of teachers.”
According to the vocal union leader a majority of the country’s teachers are above 50 years of age hence have a higher risk of contracting Covid-19 if exposed in the slightest manner to the disease.
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He has further noted that the syllabus should be resumed once schools open saying online learning is not sufficient.