School Reopening in Kenya: The Challenges that Lay Ahead

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CS Magoha at Mawego Technical Training Institute in Homabay

Schools are set to reopen on Monday amidst surging cases of Covid-19 deaths.

Speaking on a tour of Mjini Primary School in Murang’a on Wednesday, Cabinet CS Prof. George Magoha stated that schools will reopen on Monday as planned earlier. This comes even as a section of stakeholders oppose school reopening due to the supposed lack of preparedness in schools.

Indeed, some schools are ill-equipped to deal with any eventualities of corona virus infections in schools. Prof Magoha himself admitted that the schools may face challenges when implementing social distance within the school compound.

Most schools are barely sufficient in space and resources to accommodate the increasing needs of learners during the pandemic. However, Magoha reiterated that the Ministry of Education will not be deterred on its plans to reopen schools on January 4, 2021.

“Schools will reopen on Monday. We must stop listening to toxic politics,” Magoha said.

The cabinet secretary also fortified teachers to be innovative when implementing measures against the spread of COVID19 in schools. This comes as the Kenya Primary Schools Heads Association warned that schools are significantly underfunded to deal with the needs of numerous students. Although most public schools are overpopulated, Magoha believes that teachers still have the cognitive ability to innovate and manage their classrooms and schools effectively.

Furthermore, CS Magoha has reiterated the need for stakeholders to offer solutions rather than mere complaints. During a pandemic period such as this, stakes are high and everyone is emotional charged. Nevertheless, life must continue, and here we are! Schools are reopening at last.

But are our schools really ready to reopen? Parents, teachers and students will definitely face challenges of face masks, social distancing, discipline, financial constraints, and psychological distress.

In regards to face masks, there are fears that pupils might not afford reusable masks. The one-time-use masks, on the other hand, may not be sustainable. Will all children come to school wearing masks? What will happen to those who turn up without face masks? These are all pertinent issues that schools have to grabble with going forward.

A report by the Standard Media Group suggests that the Ministry of Education is yet to give a definite direction on standardized masks to be used. A parent in Nairobi who spoke to Standard said, “All they have said is that we must buy masks because it is now part of the school uniform. But we are worried that some parents may buy the right quality while some may not, and this will compromise the safety of our children.”

This is just one of many worries that espouse the situations of parents in the country currently.

Tailors have already started to innovate and design face masks that blend with school uniforms to meet the rising demand of face masks in schools.

Are your children ready for school? Happy New Year everyone!

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