What you need to know:
- First, the Ministry of Education, in collaboration with local administration (read chiefs) can map out the available spaces and open grounds which could be used for learning.
- School sports fields, church compounds and stadiums can host tented makeshift classrooms for all the local children.
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe has told us over and over again that if we treat this disease normally, it will treat us abnormally. And I wish to pass on this wisdom to Mr Kagwe’s Education colleague, Prof George Magoha.
We cannot sit back and watch as the Covid-19 pandemic destroys the future of our girls. We must think of a way in which learning will continue. Resigning to the coronavirus disease by keeping our children at home indefinitely is failure to plan. I wish to make a practical suggestion that can be implemented tomorrow and ensure that the academic calendar, including the national examinations, is not affected.
Prof Magoha should consider reopening of localised learning in phases. In Phase One, reopen schools for Form Four students and Standard Eight pupils, who are this year’s exam candidates.
First, the Ministry of Education, in collaboration with local administration (read chiefs) can map out the available spaces and open grounds which could be used for learning. School sports fields, church compounds and stadiums can host tented makeshift classrooms for all the local children. They would be fumigated and installed with handwashing and other hygiene and safety facilities.
Secondly, teachers can register at the nearest chief’s camp or sub-county education office indicating the level and subjects that they teach. That would help to establish the available teachers. Thirdly, Form Four students and Standard Eight pupils would also register at these offices. Fourthly, with the data, the local ministry and Teachers Service Commission (TSC) officials would facilitate the candidates to attend school from their homes.
The ministry and TSC would deploy teachers and principals and headteachers to centres closest to their homes. The local Curriculum Support Officers and Quality Assurance and Standard Officers would oversee the quality of teaching and learning.
However, sensitisation would have to be strengthened to ensure the involvement of parents, caregivers and the community in supporting the learners to access learning centres and return home safely. Counsellors and health workers would be on standby in case of a health or psychological need among learners or teachers.
This approach would minimise movement of learners at a time when Covid-19 infections are escalating. Again, there will be minimal risks of infection since the learners and teachers will be maintaining social distance.
Teachers can assist learners — including supporting those with access to online learning — to continue with studies and prepare for exams. This would enhance equity and equality in education.
After about two months, a review of this approach would be undertake to inform readiness for full reopening of schools. That would mean the KCSE and KCPE exams are conducted as scheduled and learning continues.
JIM MUGO NGORANO, Embu