Schools resume today amid safety concerns

Monday, May 13th, 2024 05:39 | By
Ganjoni Junior Secondary School pupils going back home from school after the Ministry of Education announced postponement of school opening date to May 6. PHOTO/Bonface Msangi
Ganjoni Junior Secondary School pupils going back home from school after the Ministry of Education announced postponement of school opening date to May 6. PHOTO/Bonface Msangi

Schools finally open for the second term today after two postponements occasioned by flooding, amid fears on the status of the learning environment.

Some parents are still concerned over the safety of their children while others question whether learning will take place, given that some institutions have been hosting displaced persons.

Similarly, others have been appealing for assistance since they lost all their property with the floods, including books and uniforms.

Education Cabinet Secretary, Ezekiel Machogu has however given assurances that all is well, saying that day schools should ensure safety of learners during collection and dropping by providing clear instructions to school drivers and assign teachers to supervise.

Last week, the CS said that 95 per cent of schools are ready to resume for second term, but the situation in some learning institutions in seven counties is being explored to ensure children’s safety.

“So far, the situation is manageable and we can be able to open schools. For the less than five per cent of schools, the President’s pronouncement was that the Government will provide Sh1 billion towards repair of facilities that have been destroyed. We will collaborate with Members of Parliament from respective constituencies that have had facilities destroyed,” said Machogu.

The Ministry directed that Government regulations on school transport should be adhered to, with borders expected to travel back between 6am and 6pm.

The Ministry also said there should be unconditional admission of learners and called for removal of barriers like uniform and school fees, especially those affected by floods.

In some schools, learners will have to cope with fresh challenges including submerged compounds and sunken toilets while other learning facilities have been turned into centres of accommodation.

At Ruiru Girls’ Secondary in Kiambu, at least 20 pit latrines collapsed and sunk due to heavy rains, presenting a new hurdle to the 1,031 students majority of whom are boarders.

The institution is the only public girls’ boarding school in Ruiru constituency and the management is appealing for urgent support to rebuild the toilets.

Speaking during a tree planting event at the school, the Principal Gloria Waithera said only 16 out of the 36 pit toilets have survived. She appealed to the government and well-wishers to help rebuild the facilities since the remaining ones are not enough for the student population.

Area MP Simon King’ara promised to avail temporary toilets as the NG-CDF prepares to allocate funds for construction of permanent ones.

Examination calender

“We cannot say there are enough funds to rebuild all the damaged schools in the constituency at once but we will start by providing temporary toilets in this school and at least 10 others which have been submerged by floods,” said King’ara.

He said plans are underway to move displaced people currently housed in three primary school to other areas.

The affected schools are Kwa Ng’ethe, Kahawa Wendani and St Augustine in Kiuu ward where hundreds of residents are accommodated after their houses were flooded.

This came as the CS allayed fears over the examination calendar saying it will remain the same given that there are only two of them this year namely Kenya Primary School Education Assessment (KPSEA) and Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE).

He said the period lost over late school reopening will be recovered.

Education Principal Secretary, Dr Belio Kipsang has affirmed that teachers will adequately cover the syllabus without extending second term, even as he urged head teachers and principals to accommodate learners with fee balances.

Kipsang also assured that the Ministry has laid down adequate strategies to make up for the lost time, adding that the syllabus will be covered in line within the academic year.

“By the time our children are sitting for assessment and examinations at the end of the year, we will have made sure that we have covered the necessary syllabus and content that is expected of us as teachers,” Kipsang said.

He said the Ministry in collaboration with other government agencies, is fixing the damaged facilities at schools, ahead of the reopening.

“As we open schools on Monday, we acknowledge that there are still challenges in a few of our schools in terms of the damage that may have occurred. I give the assurance that we are working together with our MPs through CDF within the shortest time possible to make sure that we bring all facilities to the level that is conducive for learning,” the PS explained.

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