The Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) wants this year’s national examinations postponed due to coronavirus outbreak.
Kuppet Secretary-General Akelo Misori said in a statement that the current environment is not conducive to the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) and Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examinations, scheduled for November.
“The Ministry of Education and the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) must postpone the national examinations immediately, said,” Mr Misori said.
He said that the anxiety in the the school system will not allow the examinations to be administered on schedule.
Last month, President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered all schools closed for 30 days to check the spread of the coronavirus.
The examination papers are printed in the UK and the lockdown will disrupt the practicals and make it difficult to covering the syllabus as scheduled.
It will also be difficult for Knec officials to travel to the UK to revise and have the exam papers for the exams, whose practicals are scheduled to begin in September.
Data from Knec indicates that, by the deadline for registration on February 28, a total of 1,938,667 candidates had registered.
Mr Misori, however, commended the government for the robust measures taken to control the coronavirus pandemic currently ravaging the whole world.
“We recognise that, given the novelty and speed of transmission of the disease, no government can effectively shield its people from Covid-19,” he said.
However, he said the union is concerned that the government’s response to the pandemic is not dynamic enough, saying that it must constantly assess the situation and address the challenges.
“Poor families have also been left out of the distance learning platforms being rolled out by schools and colleges through television, radio and the internet. Given that many families cannot afford computers and the internet, learning institutions should take equity into consideration in implementing distance learning,” Mr Misori said.
He asked Kenya Institute of curriculum development(KICD) and the Ministry of Education to ensure that the distance learning platforms being rolled out are as comprehensive as possible.
“Timetables coming from KICD and MoE have very short lessons that do not provide sufficient delivery of the curriculum,” Mr Misori said, adding: “While digital learning is a temporary solution, learners must be protected from cyber crimes during this crisis. This is especially important since most learners access the internet through public cybercafés. However, good technology might be, it is fraught with challenges and cannot replace classroom teaching.”
He added that the government should assure Kenyans that the pandemic will not lead to job losses in the public sector.
“If anything, this crisis has revealed the level of underemployment in key sectors, including healthcare and education. The government should commit to employ more providers of essential services as soon as this pandemic is resolved,” Mr Misori said.
He added that the government should support private employers to enable them retain the staff they had before the crisis.
“Kenyans must come out of this crisis together. Learners and workers who have lost, or will lose their loved ones, will require psychological support,” he said.