Education Cabinet Secretary (CS) Prof George Magoha has apologised to parents, on behalf of government, over the abrupt early closure of schools across the country.
His apology followed uproar from disgruntled parents who said the decision by the Ministry of Education caught them unprepared.
Prof Magoha, speaking in Uasin Gishu County on Wednesday said many schools will be used as polling centres and the government does not want the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to give excuses for not preparing in good time for the Tuesday polls.
“I know many parents were hurt by the abrupt closure of schools, and on behalf of the government I apologise for that action,” he said.
“We were forced to close schools to enable IEBC to use our classes in readiness for Tuesday polls,” the CS said.
Parents have faulted the mstry of Education over the abrupt closure of schools.
The National Parents Association noted that parents were caught unawares by the directive from the ministry.
"Most of us learnt about it through social media. Many parents had to quickly ensure their children got back home,” said chairperson Nicholas Maiyo.
“As we speak, three quarters of schools have closed. We have a few students still in schools due to challenges and we urge principals to get in touch with parents,” he told the Nation in Eldoret.
The association called on political leaders and other stakeholders to preach peace and unity to ensure that the school calendar is not affected, expressing hope that normality would return soon after the polls.
"We are urging all candidates to accept the poll results, because if a loser fails to concede, it may disrupt the school calendar," said Mr Maiyo.
Addressing the uproar, Prof Magoha said the move was meant to avert excuses from IEBC in terms of preparedness ahead of Tuesday polls.
"Our move was meant to stop IEBC from complaining that we did not give them enough time to prepare for elections," he said at Umoja Secondary School in Uasin Gishu County during commissioning of Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) classrooms.
Some parents have also suggested changes to the Constitution to push future elections to December, when all schools are closed, to avoid interference with learning.
"This won't interfere with the school calendar. We pay fees, but students spend more time at home,” Susan Cheptoo said.
“What was the rationale of running a crash programme for learners and parents, as if they are being punished for the government's poor handling of Covid-19?”
She said parents are frustrated by the school closures and the Constitution should be amended to avoid such disruptions. Most parents said they were unprepared for the decision.
"We had just paid school fees, only to be told to send fare. I had to Fuliza to raise fare for my child," said Edwin Kemboi, a parent in Eldoret.
Mr Musa Tekelezi accused the Ministry of Education of poor planning.
“There is too much disruption. We pay school fees for the whole term (three months), just for students to spend less than two months in school. It is the schools that are profiting from short terms. We as parents are suffering,” he said.
The CS had earlier commissioned Eliud Kipchoge Library in Nandi County constructed at a cost of Sh80m. He represented President Uhuru Kenyatta who had earlier been expected to handle the task.
The Eliud Kipchoge library complex in Nandi county will be a community resource centre.
The library named after international athlete Eliud Kipchoge was funded by President Kenyatta himself as a personal gift to the runner and his local community after he ran 1.59 minutes to become the world’s fastest man in the world of athletics.
Prof Magoha said the library consumed Sh 85million out of the Sh100million which the President gave out for the project to the rural school where Mr Kipchoge schooled.
The balance of Sh15 million will be spent on construction of ten new classrooms at the Kapsisiywa Secondary School and a perimeter wall around the library complex, he said.
The CS lauded Mr Kipchoge’s family for the project, as the runner lauded President Kenyatta for honouring his request to construct the library at his former school.
Mr Kipchoge said he valued education, hence his appeal to the Head of State to fund the library so as to help transform Kapsisiywa location.
Nandi County Commissioner Mr Herman Shambi said the government will provide security round the clock to protect the facility which has modern equipment and books.
Meanwhile, Prof Magoha has expressed confidence that he will resume work after the election, and hope of completing the remaining 50 percent of CBC classes after the General Election.
“I will only take break to vote on August 9 and the following day I will be in the field to ensure that the remaining 50 percent of CBC classes are in place as we will be ushering in the fifth President of Kenya,” he stated.