The High Court in Kisii has declined to transfer a case in which eight Homa Bay residents are challenging the government’s plan to reopen schools.
Michael Otieno, Evance Gor, Mary Akach, Irine Ojwang, Robert Oluoch, Walter Opiyo, Millicent Adhiambo and Evans Odhiambo have filed a petition against the intended reopening of schools before they are pandemic-compliant as per the framework issued by the UN.
The eight petitioners are also challenging what they argue is a selective virtual learning programme introduced by the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD), which they say locks out pupils and students who lack access to electricity, electronic devices, television sets, radio and mobile phone network signals in their areas.
The Cabinet Secretary for Education, the Education ministry, KICD and the Attorney General are named as respondents in the case.
The Attorney General, through State Counsel Stafford Nyauma, had requested the court to transfer the case to Nairobi.
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However, Justice Anthony Ndung’u declined the request, saying the court had given room for all the parties to involve key stakeholders in a mediation process that will ensure that the matter is solved amicably.
Justice Ndung’u said while he understood that the Attorney General handles litigation from across the country and needed to consult with the Education ministry, it was also important to consider the petitioners in the case.
“This court has rejected a request by the Attorney General to move the matter to Nairobi and gives him 21 days to file a response to the petitioners in this case which will be mentioned on August 25 this year even as we give room for mediation process to take place,” Justice Ndung’u ordered.
Otieno said the petitioners were not ready to have the matter transferred to Nairobi since it would inconvenience them.
“The petitioners are also worried of the high numbers of Covid-19 cases being reported in Nairobi and would not want to risk travelling to Nairobi yet the matter can be handled at the High Court in Kisii,” Otieno told the court.
George Eshuchi representing KICD told the court that a mediation team has been put in place.