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Kenya Likely to Open Colleges Before Primary and Secondary Schools

There is a higher probability that Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) institutions will reopen in shifts, as opposed to primary and secondary schools.

This revelation was brought forth by Education Cabinet Secretary, George Magoha who pointed at infrastructural challenges and congestion being a huge obstacle in the opening of primary and secondary schools.

Speaking in Kisumu on Friday, the CS said TVET colleges and universities are capable of achieving social distancing efforts to contain COVID–19 among learners.

“The TVET institutions, as we have looked at them, have a much better chance in terms of getting social distancing. Like universities, they offer various courses and can adjust their programs and open in shifts much more easily than primary and secondary schools” Prof. Magoha said on meeting the TVET principals from the Western region.

Masks Production No Longer a Headache to TVET Institutions

Education Cabinet Secretary triumphantly declared that the production of masks was no longer a headache as there was assurance from Julius Juan, the TVET principal secretary that masks can be locally produced from the institutions.

“The unfortunate thing is COVID–19 is still increasing… But the government is willing to work as if we’re going to open on September 1” Prof. Magoha said.

The CS also let it be known that reopening learning institutions will largely be dependent on the country’s COVID–19 status and that continuing with the plan while the cases are still high would be totally impossible. He also added that they will heed to the advice of the health ministry on two reopenings of the institutions.

“As a physician, I will tell you according to my training, we should open after we have reached the peak and stabilized and started coming down for 14 days continuously,” he said. “There is no country in the world that has dared to reopen when the Covid-19 infections were still rising.”

There has been a number of reservations from parents and other sector players on plans of reopening learning institutions in September, pointing at a lack of preparedness.

MoH Advised a Maximum of 20 Learners Per Class

Prof. Magoha on Wednesday said the health ministry advised on each classroom having a maximum of 20 learners and suggested erecting of tents to accommodate learners in schools facing infrastructural challenges. However, the school heads rendered this impractical.

The Education CS said tertiary learning institutions with not be opened before they’re certified by government-approved physicians.

“The challenge would be in boarding facilities in terms of bed capacity,” he said.

Dr. Juan declared TVET institutions crucial in the fight against Covid-19 because if they reopened, many would continue to produce critical items in the fight.

“Eldoret polytechnic donated about 240 medical beds to Uasin Gishu county and Kisumu polytechnic is producing solar-powered handwashing machines,” he stated.

The government, according to the CS, has been exploring different ideas in pre-primary, primary, and secondary schools including increasing learning facilities which he termed not reasonable.

Social Distancing a Major Hindrance in Opening Pre-primary to Secondary Schools

“In pre-primary, primary and secondary schools, social distance is a major challenge in capital letters, but it should not stop us from preparing for reopening in September,” the CS said, “It will be most unreasonable to expect the government to double or triple the facilities in learning institutions because it has taken years to build what is there.”

The consideration of overhauling the school calendar has also come up, but according to the CS, it was not practical because of the East African Community protocols.

” We are senior members of the EAC and it would mean the president will have to consult with the others and if they say no, then it is now something we should even waste our time on.” He stated.

Disrupted TVET Examination Classes to Resume After Inspection

Speaking about exams, the CS said TVETs could allow the examination classes that were disrupted to resume after the inspection to ensure compliance with Covid-19 requirements. Prof. Magoha dismissed the calls by the Kenyan National Union of Teachers to get rid of the delocalization policy, so that teachers return to their home counties, calling it petty politics.

VIDEO: Education CS Magoha on reopening of TVETs institutions


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