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Petition in school reopening case withdrawn following mediation

By Edwin Nyarangi | August 22nd 2020 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

The plans to reopen schools are now set to continue after a suit lodged against it by some seven parents was withdrawn.

The petitioners had accused the government of attempting to reopen schools even though there are no proper measures in place to ensure that the institutions are safe for learning.

Michael Otieno, Evance Gor, Mary Akach, Irine Ojwang, Walter Opiyo, Millicent Adhiambo and Evans Odhiambo had filed a petition against the intended reopening of schools.

"The institutions would not be pandemic-compliant as per the framework issued by United Nation Environmental Scientific Cultural Organisation (Unesco)," the parents had argued in their petition.

The government and the seven petitioners yesterday agreed to end the case amicably through a court mediation process recommended by Justice Anthony Ndung'u.

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Justice Ndung'u, who has been hearing the case at Kisii High Court, ordered the parties to update him on the matter on Tuesday.

They had also challenged the alleged 'selective virtual learning programme' by the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD).

The petitioners had argued that the move was disadvantaging some pupils and students who lack access to electricity, electronic devices, television sets, radio and network signal in their areas.

The Cabinet Secretary for Education, the Ministry of Education, KICD and the Attorney General were named as the first, second, third and fourth respondents, respectively.

Justice John Onyiego was chosen to be the mediator between the petitioners and the respondents, and was given 60 days to help solve the matter failure to which it would to be sent back to Ndung'u for a ruling.

“The petitioners and respondents have agreed to end this matter amicably following a mediation process recommended by the Kisii High Court. The agreement is to be signed before Justice Ndung'u on September 23 this year,” said Onyiego.

Otieno said the petitioners had agreed to withdraw the petition on condition that the court orders the government to ensure that all learning institutions have the necessary measures in place to contain the spread of Covid-19.

He said the petitioners were acting in public interest and asked the government to ensure the concerns they raised in their petition were acted upon.

Advocate George Eshuchi, who represented KICD, said the ongoing electronic learning was intended to ensure that students were engaged while at home, and not for the purpose of covering the syllabus.

"The community-based learning was introduced by the ministry to supplement electronic learning programmes to ensure that all learners across the country are reached and kept busy," KICD in-house counsel Robai Musilivi said.

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