Education CS Prof George Magoha photo
Education CS Prof George Magoha. PHOTO | STAR


Education CS Prof George Magoha says boarding schools will be scraped in 2021 if the virus curve is not flattened.

He added that the government is aware most boarding schools can become coronavirus infection hotspots.

There are some schools which have overcrowded classrooms, congested and filthy dormitories where it would be difficult to maintain social distancing.

Others insufficient clean running water for regular handwashing.

Some have sick bays while others do not have. Sick bays can only hold a few students in isolation and the nearest health facility is kilometres away.

Education CS George Magoha on Thursday told MPs the ministry will take extreme measures, including discarding boarding facilities, to keep children safe.

The ministry was also thinking of localising teachers to schools within their villages as part of the measures.

Primary and Secondary school learners will be integrated into institutions within their localities when schools resume.

“Futuristically, we shall focus mainly on day schools. It will be difficult maintaining social distance in the cubicle of eight learners,” Magoha told the National Assembly's Committee on Education.

“Every child will be provided with two masks which are washable; my concern is the safety of the children. The child must wear the mask,” he added.

Already, the ministry has engaged the National Youth Service, Rivatex and the Kitui County Textile Centre to supply the estimated 26 Million face-masks.

“There are sizeable members who are over 58 years old... These senior people and we will ensure they are given duties that do not expose them to the virus,” he said.

More funds will be channelled to schools to boost infrastructure because the existing facilities might not guarantee the required physical distance.

“We have agreed for the time being that these centres should be evacuated a month to reopening and fumigated and sanitised 14 days before,” he said.

Kenya National Union of Teachers Knut secretary general Wilson Sossion wanted answers on the boarding facilities programmes.

Sossion wants children to attend schools within their locality and return home in the evening.

However, Indimuli Kahi, the Kenya Secondary Heads Association chair, said schools act as safe havens for some learners and the move will put many in more danger.

"At the moment, the bulk of our learners are in day schools… let the government scale up all schools, equip them with infrastructure and necessary facilities and parents will scramble for day schools. It’s the only natural way to kill boarding schools,” Kahi said.

However, Kahi supported a regional admission policy of secondary schools to avert any future halt on the education system.

“We can have regional boarding schools moving forward especially in reflection to the new curriculum. The institutions can regulate the distance that admission is covering,” Kahi said.

CS Magoha said teachers will be trained, starting with school heads, on basic coronavirus control before January reopening.

It will be compulsory for all kitchen staff in all learning institutions to undergo regular coronavirus testing.

Meanwhile, the CS transcribed the plans to roll out community-based learning is at an advanced stage.

The programme will ensure that children who cannot access online learning are engaged with teachers in their locality until the schools reopen.

Magoha said that officers from the Teachers Service Commission, Knec and, KICD are working on the guidelines to be issued to teachers.

“Those children are already living together and the teacher can teach them in that locality,” Magoha said when asked on how the ministry will ensure social distance is maintained.

In the early stages of localised learning, teachers will offer lessons to learners under an arrangement similar to the Nyumba Kumi framework.

The initiative is anticipated to commence in September and will involve the TSC, administrative officers, chiefs and elders and the Education ministry.

MPs in the committee chaired by Busia Woman Representative Florence Mutua voiced concerns that Kenya was the only country in the world to scrap a whole calendar year.

They queried why modalities could not be put in place to have candidates sit for their national exams while observing the Covid-19 regulations.

“What if we don’t peak in January, are we going to scrap another year?” asked Ngunjiri Wambugu, Nyeri Town MP and vice-chairman the committee.

But education adviser David Njengere said rushing transition would amount to pushing the problem to universities.  

“We use KCSE results for a selection of courses in universities and since a student had done only nine weeks [of the final year], on what basis are you going to guide a course, say, like medicine, having not covered a big proportion of biology in secondary?” he asked.

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