Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha has formed a nine-member committee to craft a back-to-school roadmap and advise him on steps to take in a sector ravaged by Covid-19.
The Covid-19 Education Response Committee will be chaired by Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) chairperson Sara Ruto.
Prof Magoha launched the team at the KICD headquarters in Nairobi and instructed it to begin work immediately.
Top on the agenda of the committee will be to advise the CS on the reopening of pre-primary, primary, secondary schools, teacher training colleges and adult education centres. Schools were closed on March 15. The May 4 opening date was pushed to June 4 as more coronavirus cases were confirmed by the Ministry of Health.
The school calendar is expected to be reorganised. The minister insists national examinations in October and November will go on as planned.
The virtual learning offered by KICD has been criticised for leaving out millions of children from poor backgrounds.
Last week, the ministry launched the one-and-a-half-year Kenya Basic Covid-19 Emergency Response Plan, beginning on June 1.
It spells out measures the government intends to put in place to minimise adverse effects on education when schools are closed and when they reopen.
Dr Ruto’s team will be expected “to advise the Cabinet secretary on ways of on-boarding learners when schools reopen and document coronavirus-related matters, lessons learnt and recommendations for future preparedness”.
The members of the committee are Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association chairman Kahi Indimuli, his Kenya Primary Schools Heads Association counterpart Nicholas Gathemia, Kenya Private Schools Association chief executive Peter Ndoro and Kenya Parents Association chairman Nicholas Maiyo.
Others are Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops official Augustine Muthigani, Ms Jane Mwangi of Kenya Association (Independent International Schools), Mr Nelson Makanda of National Council of Churches of Kenya, Sheikh Munawar Khan (Muslim Education Council) and Kenya Special Schools Heads Association chairman Peter Sitienei.
Ex-officio members of the committee are Ms Ruth Mugambi (KICD), Mr Patrick Ochich (Kenya National Examinations Council), Mr Gabriel Mathenge (Teachers Service Commission), Mr Paul Kibet (Director, Secondary Education), Ms Anne Gachoya (Directorate of Policy, Partnerships and EAC) and Ms Loice Ombajo (Ministry of Health/University of Nairobi).
Teachers’ unions have called for stringent measures to be put in place before schools reopen. They want mechanisms to protect teachers and learners from the virus.
The Cabinet secretary instructed the committee to advise him “on the health and safety measures to be put in place for the pupils/students, teachers and entire school community”.