Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha has asked technical colleges to start preparing for reopening in September.
He, however, asked the institutions to resume learning only partially, giving priority to final year examination candidates.
Prof Magoha also hinted that the basic education sector may not be reopened in September as previously indicated due to the sharp rise in Covid-19 infection rate across the country.
This means that reopening of primary and secondary schools could be pushed to January unless the Covid-19 trajectory slows down. It is understood that a majority of school principals have opposed plans for reopening in September, saying, they are not prepared to observe the health protocols especially due to financial challenges. The government has not released any subsidy funds to schools since March.
A January reopening would, however, pose an unprecedented logistics nightmare because it would mean that all learners, except candidates, would not progress to the next grade and would have to repeat a full academic year. Having been in school for only two months and two weeks this year, there would be no justification for progression.
The schools are also grappling with a huge teachers’ shortage—about 130,000—even as those hired by the boards of management have not been paid since March and are unlikely to work with zeal, unless they get their full salaries when schools reopen.
Well-placed sources within Jogoo House indicated yesterday that national exam candidates could be ordered back to school in August or September to prepare for the tests, which Prof Magoha said recently will be done in April or May.
The sources also said universities may be given the discretion to choose their opening dates depending on their academic calendars and their readiness to observe Health ministry guidelines on prevention of infections.
Universities are expected to ensure they are well stocked with face masks, sanitiser booths and running water. They should also impose social distancing rules for everyone on campus, observe hygiene protocols and then invite a team of Health ministry and education officials for inspection before they are allowed to reopen.
Speaking at the Kenya Technical Trainers College in Nairobi after meeting principals of colleges from Nairobi, Central and North Eastern region, Prof Magoha advised the institutions to consider partial reopening in order to allow students to sit examinations.
“We had a meeting with stakeholders. A part of our engagement meeting has gone on well and come up with several proposals that will see learning resume,” said the CS, who was accompanied by the Tvet Principal Secretary, Dr Julius Jwan.
Prof Magoha said social and physical distancing is the elephant in the room.
“Kindly programme and bring students in shifts and allow others to complete their examinations,” he said, adding that the institutions must be able to make their own masks and provide sanitisers to students.
He said the government has invested a lot of resources in Tvet, and would want to see them used as required.
“We’re moving to competency-based curriculum in Tvet. We want more children in the institutions to use their hands so they can employ themselves as well as others,” the CS said.
On reopening of primary and secondary schools, Prof Magoha said the government will not risk the lives of young children. “We don’t want to have a situation where we take learners back to school and get them infected with coronavirus,” he said.
The government, the CS said, will continue to work and maintain health guidelines protocols, adding that universities and colleges that were used as holding centres for Covid-19 victims will be fumigated. The institutions will no longer admit new patients in order to allow students to report, he added.
Sh8.8 billion from the World Bank will be used to support infrastructure development in schools, the CS said.