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Census: Why school reopening may have to be postponed by a week

Sunday August 4 2019

CENSUS

Kenya National Bureau of Statistics Director General Zachary Mwangi gives his remarks during the 2019 Economic Survey launch at KICC on April 25, 2019. Mr Mwangi is confident that the forthcoming census will be credible. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

JUSTUS WANGA
By JUSTUS WANGA
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Schools may not open for third term as earlier scheduled due to a clash of dates between their calendar and the upcoming population census.

This follows a request by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) to have the Education ministry vary the calendar to give ample time for the census.

ENUMERATION

The move is informed by fear that most people will miss out on the important exercise conducted every 10 years in the country since many parents, learners and teachers will be travelling on the weekend of August 24 – the census night – in readiness for third term.

The bureau has written to Cabinet Secretary George Magoha asking him to consider changing the opening date from August 27 to September 2 since the enumeration runs for one week. Prof Magoha had not replied to the letter by Friday.

Insiders at KNBS told the Sunday Nation that having the two major events at the same time would greatly affect the final data as many will not only miss out, but also cases of double entries may be higher.

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“We are in close consultation with the Ministry of Education on how best the exercise should be conducted, to ensure everyone is captured,” Mr Zachary Mwangi, the director-general of KNBS, said, without giving further details.

With the data from the ministry indicating that there are 8.8 million and 2.6 million learners in primary schools and secondary schools, respectively, the bureau says the dent on the count could be huge if one was to factor in the sheer number of parents who will likely accompany some of them to school with the possibility of being left out.

Prof Magoha was said not to be keen on the request, with sources at the ministry saying he is concerned that the changes will end up eating into the term dates and eventually affecting the administration of national exams later in the year.

If granted, it would either mean extending the term by a week, or cutting it short by the same time at the risk of hampering syllabus coverage.

PLANNING

Mr Mwangi announced that data collection will continue for a period of seven days till the end of August 31 and that all information provided will be in reference to the night of August 24/25.

In the event the ministry stands its ground, KNBS intends to deploy enumerators to schools to enlist those who may have missed out.

Military barracks, convents, prisons, inpatient hospitals and people in transit will also be taken care of. Enumerators will equally be posted at bus stops and social joints.

“We will cover airports as well. We will give them cards to show they have been captured,” he said.

Already, some 164,700 staff are undergoing training in preparation for the work. The training began on July 15 after KNBS recruited 2,700 ICT supervisors, 27,000 content supervisors and 135,000 enumerators for the population count.

The ICT supervisors will train the content supervisors who will in turn train the enumerators for the digital census. The census will be paperless and an application has already been developed by local universities.

Aware that some people will still miss out even with the elaborate measures in place, KNBS encourages those not captured by end of August 31 but who will have spent the night of August 24/25, 2019 in the country to report to local administrative offices or contact them.

The tribe remains a thorny subject, with some feeling it should be done away with to address ethnic discrimination in the country, but Mr Mwangi holds it has an important role to play in understanding the needs of certain groups when it comes to national planning.

In March, politicians from Central Kenya threatened to go to court to stop the census if KNBS would  not deploy technology in data collection, a view opposed by those from North Eastern part of the country.