Be decisive about school reopening but plan well

What you need to know:

  • In July, Prof Magoha had announced that schools would only reopen in January.
  • Ordinarily, schools are congested and, for them to reopen, additional facilities must be put up.

The sixth-month closure of schools and other learning institutions has taken a huge toll on learners, teachers and parents.

The possibility of learners losing an entire academic year is dreadful and fraught with economic, social and psychological challenges. It is bound to remain etched in the minds of the youngsters for a lifetime.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has described that as a generational catastrophe which ought to be avoided at all costs. Indeed, the UN and its other agencies, such as Unesco and the World Health Organisation (WHO), are asking nations to consider gradual reopening of learning institutions as Covid-19 infections decline to recover lost time.

On Monday, Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha convened a stakeholders meeting to review the situation and announced that the government would reconsider the date for reopening schools in light of the falling numbers of infections.

Lose a full year

In July, Prof Magoha had announced that schools would only reopen in January, meaning that the learners would lose a full year. But now, it seems there is a rethink. Subsequently, the minister charged the Sara Ruto-led taskforce on Covid-19, which he had appointed a while ago, to reconvene, explore scenarios and advise the government on the next course of action. The taskforce is expected to present proposals to another stakeholders’ conference next week.

Even so, questions abound over schools’ preparedness in light of the health protocols that require social distancing and provision of face masks, sanitisers, water and soap within institutions.

For the past six months, the schools have gone without cash. Ordinarily, they are congested and, for them to reopen, additional facilities must be put up. That requires funds and time. Importantly, the school calendar has to be reorganised, including rescheduling national examinations.

The taskforce should consider gradual reopening next month, starting with the examination classes, and an accelerated learning programme for learners to catch up with the syllabus. Learners should not be condemned to losing a whole year for no good reason.