NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 4 – Social distancing regulation was identified as a major challenge in most schools as learning resumed Monday after a 10-month break over COVID-19.
With some of the private schools having been closed as owners opted for other ventures, parents were forced to take their children in public schools exerting even more pressure at the institutions that are grappling with social distancing as required by the public health.
“My child was in a private school but it was closed down and I came here at Kilimani primary [school] to check if I will get space for him. Unfortunately, I am not alone and most public schools I have gone to I am told are full,” a parent said.
Another parent from Meru County said that she had to transfer her children from a private school because she could no longer afford the school fees due to harsh economic times caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
“My children were at Shalom Academy but I will not be able to cater for their fees. So I decided to come here at Meru Primary School to see if I will be assisted,” she said.
Some headteachers decried lack of space while enforcing the COVID-19 protocols due to inadequate space and lack of enough desks.
“It is not easy to ensure the social distancing rule is observed as we have many students, classes are not big, we do not have enough desks and therefore, we will have to be innovative as CS Magoha (Education CS) said including some students learning from the dining hall,” said Mumbia, a head teacher at Voi Primary school.
But speaking at the Olympics Primary School in Kibra earlier on Monday, Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha said that he was impressed with the good turnout.
In Nyeri County, pupils were forced to learn under trees and some in tents due to lack of space in existing classrooms.
A similar situation was experienced in other counties including, Nandi, Kericho, Kisumu and Mombasa where parents were struggled to get admission for their children in public schools.
Schools in Kenya were closed in March 2020 when the first case of COVID-19 was detected in the country but they were reopened partially in October 2020 for Form 4, Class 8 candidates and Grade 4.
An academic calendar issued by the Ministry of Education shows that Pre-Primary 1 and 2; Grade 1, 2 and 3; Class 5, 6 and 7; and Form 1, 2 and 3 learners will start their Term 2 on 4th January, 2021 and end on 19th March 2021 together with the Grade 4 and candidate classes (Class 8 and Form 4) who opened last year in October.
Magoha has urged all parents to take their children back to school saying their safety is guaranteed.
“There is no reason why parents should fail to send children to school,” he said, “we have put in place adequate safety measures but they need to ensure they give them masks.”