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Government sued over bid to reopen schools in September

The Kenyan government is finding itself in a tight spot over planned reopening of schools slated for this September. 8 petitioners have moved to the High court seeking answers on how the government is prepared ahead of schools’ reopening. Also of major concern, to the petitioners, is the unequal coverage and distribution of e-learning equipment countrywide.

The petitioners (Robert Olouch, Evans Odhiambo, Walter Akeyo, Michael Kojo, Millicent Adhiambo, Evance Atieno, Irene Adhiambo and Mary Omwanda) hold that government has not fully complied with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) guidelines on the reopening of schools. The latest guidelines require that once schools begin to reopen, priority should be on how to reintegrate learners into school settings safely and in ways that allow learning to pick up again, especially for those who suffered the biggest learning losses.

‘The new guidance offers helpful tips and checklists for parents and caregivers, as well as children and students. Actions include:

  • Monitoring children’s health and keeping them home from school if they are ill;
  • Encouraging children to ask questions and express their concerns; and
  • Coughing or sneezing into a tissue or your elbow and avoid touching your face, eyes, mouth and nose.’

The suit that was filed at the Kisii High Court on Thursday, May 28 the petitioners’ Lawyer Japhet Osoro Kaosa has listed Education, Science and Technology Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Education Science and Technology, Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development and Attorney General were filed as the first, second, third and fourth respondents.

According to the petition papers parents who are registered as essential services providers such as health care workers have little time in guiding their children on e-learning which needs some form of supervision. They thus want the current lessons being streamed by the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (kicd) to be declared null and void.

In his latest address, president Uhuru Kenyatta directed the ministry of education to come up with an elaborate plan on how schools are to reopen. He at the same time asked the ministry to rework the school calendar that should be made public by mid August.

There are sharp divisions between stake holders with some supporting the plans to have partial reopening of schools, while others want the year written off and learning to resume in January, 2020.

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