By OUMA WANZALA
Kenya’s Education Cabinet Secretary (CS) George Magoha announced Tuesday that national examinations will not take place this year as the Covid-19 pandemic has rendered the school calendar lost.
As such, CS Magoha said, Standard Eight and Form Four students who were to sit the exams this year will do so in 2021.
“Stakeholders have shelved the initial proposal to reopen schools in September for Standard Eight and Form Four candidates,” he said.
The minister also announced that all basic learning institutions will reopen in January next year, as that is when the virus curve is expected to have flattened.
“The Ministry of Education will issue a comprehensive circular on the reopening dates while the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) will issue revised examination timetables,” said the CS.
Prof Magoha said all students will therefore repeat their classes.
“To ensure learners are engaged, the Ministry of Education will enhance remote learning (online, distance and e-learning) and explore innovative approaches to promote equity,” he said.
The ministry further announced that technical and vocational education and training (Tvet) institutions as well as colleges will reopen in September but only with strict adherence to the Ministry of Health’s guidelines for containing the virus.
“Universities will be allowed to re-open if they meet all the requirements set by MoH, and they must be inspected. Members of staff must agree on how they will do a phased reopening,” he said, adding institutions that flout the rules risk closure.
The CS noted that the decisions apply to all learners, including those in schools offering International curricula.
He added, however, that they will be reviewed if the daily count of Covid-19 cases reduces within 14 days.
“All the decisions that we have made here with stakeholders regarding reopening of learning institutions may change as informed by reports from the Ministry of Health, prevailing circumstances and increasing knowledge on Covid-19,” he said.
Prof Magoha added that face-to-face learning in universities will take place on a case by case basis and in line with compliance with Covid-19 protocols.
“Universities should continue holding virtual learning and graduations for students who have successfully completed their programmes and met graduation requirements set by their respective senates,” he said.
“They should consider phased reopening to achieve physical and social distancing, especially in halls of residence, lecture rooms and dining halls.”
CS Magoha explained that since the infection curve has been rising, parents have expressed strong reservations about sending their children back to school.
Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) Secretary-General Akelo Misori, Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) Secretary-General Wilson Sossion and National Parents Association Chairman Nicholas Maiyo support the decision for learners to remain at home until the virus is contained.
Dr Loice Ombajo, who has been working with the Ministry of Education, said the move will ensure they are safe.
Prof Magoha’s announcements came a day after President Uhuru Kenyatta lifted the cessation of movement order that affected counties considered coronavirus hotspots.
The move is considered risky as the daily Covid-19 statistics for the last few days have been alarming. The highest single day count so far is 389 cases,, the figure recorded on July 4.
As at July 6, Kenya had recorded a total of 8,067 confirmed cases of the virus, 164 deaths and 2,414 recoveries.
President Kenyatta also allowed the phased re-opening of places of worship but said only 100 people will attend services that will last only one hour.
The strict rules for the re-opening of places of worship have faced opposition, with some saying the freedom of worship will be stifled.
Local air travel will resume on July 15 under the guidelines of the Health and Transport ministries while international travel will resume on August 1.