City schools remain shut amid demo fears

Four cars were torched and burned in Mombasa, Kenya, protesting against the government.

Four cars were torched and burned in Mombasa, Kenya, protesting against the government.

Photo credit: Kevin Odit | Nation Media group

Many schools in Nairobi City remain closed as parents kept their children at home on Tuesday amid fears that the anti-government demonstrations could turn violent.

While some schools sent messages to parents on Monday that they would remain closed, some opted not to take the children to school. Many roads had less traffic than usual. Learning resumed on  Monday, July 1 2024 after the mid-term break last week.

“Due to the planned demonstrations tomorrow Tuesday, July 2, 2024, there will be no school as a precautionary measure. We shall resume classes on Wednesday, July 3, 2024. The children have been sent home with extra work they can do under supervision,” reads one such message sent to parents.

“We are planning to have physical classes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, then use the online platform on Tuesday and Thursday to cover more subjects. We would not want the children in harm's way,” another message from a school in Rongai read.

Learners did not turn up at Moi Avenue Primary School, which is within the Nairobi Central Business District, but the teachers reported for duty. They later left as tension gripped the capital as police engaged protestors in running battles and lobbed tear gas canisters at them.

Such circumstances

“We weren’t asked to take children to school, but I couldn’t have allowed my children to come to school under such circumstances. Last week, the police officers were throwing teargas canisters even inside the school compound,” Chris Were, a parent at the school, told Nation.

Jamhuri High School, which is in the Ngara area, has not reopened after the learners took the half-term break on Wednesday last week. A worker at the school said that learning is expected to resume tomorrow (Wednesday).

Only 10 learners out of 250 showed up in the morning at St Brigid’s Public Primary School along General Waruingi Road in the Pumwani area. They were released to go home at 10am, with the teachers also allowed to leave.

“We didn’t tell the learners not to come. It’s the parents’ decision, which is good because we don’t have the power to protect them in case their safety is compromised. We can’t punish learners for absenteeism under such circumstances,” a teacher at St Brigid’s told Nation.

“The demonstrations are now affecting learning because even yesterday, only 50 learners turned up and we still don’t know what will happen tomorrow or on Thursday and next week,” another teacher said.

There were no learners at the adjacent Dr Aggrey Primary School as well as Muslim Primary School. At 11.45am, the Nation found some parents at Muthaiga Primary School who had gone to withdraw their children. They said they feared that riots in the Mathare neighbourhood could spill over. Traffic along the usually busy Thika Road was light.

However, learning was going on in some schools like City Primary School in Ngara and Ainsworth Primary School along Muratina Street in Eastleigh.