Schools remain shut as uneasy parents keep children at home

Empty classroom

An empty classroom at Moi Avenue Primary School in Nairobi on July 2, 2024.

Photo credit: Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Learning resumed on Monday after the mid-term break last week.
  • Pupils failed to turned up at Moi Avenue Primary School in Nairobi.

Many schools across the country remained closed on Tuesday as parents kept their children at home amid fears anti-government protests 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 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 on harm's way,” another message from a school in Rongai read.

While pupils failed to turned up at Moi Avenue Primary School in downtown Nairobi, their teachers reported for duty.

The teachers later left as tension gripped the capital amid running street battles between police and the demonstrators.

“We weren’t asked not 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 the teargas canisters even inside the school compound,” Mr Chris Were, a parent at the school, told the Nation.

Jamhuri High School, which is in the Ngara neighbourhood and a walking distance from the city centre, had not reopened after students broke for half-term last Wednesday. Learning is expected to resume on Wednesday. 

Only 10 out of 250 students showed up in the morning at St Brigid’s Public Primary School on General Waruingi Road in Pumwani. They were released to go home at 10am. The teachers were 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 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 the Nation.

There were no learners at the adjacent Dr Aggrey Primary School and Muslim Primary School.

At 11:45am, the Nation found some parents at Muthaiga Primary School who had gone to take their children home. They said they feared that riots in Mathare could spill over to the school.

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

In Homa Bay town, many learners did not report to school. A few who did carried packed lunch.

At Shauri Yako Primary School, the headteacher, Mr John Oguttu, said all teachers reported for duty and only a few learners did not show up.

The situation was the same at Lake Primary School. Schools that were to reopen today after the half-term break advised parents not to release their children due to safety concerns.

Parents with children at Ogande Girls were told via text message that the school will reopen on Wednesday.

“Please note that, due to planned nationwide demonstrations on Tuesday, our resumption date from half-term changes to Wednesday July 3, 2024,” the WhatsApp message said.

In Kisii town, the reopening date for learners at Kisii High School was pushed to Wednesday.

"The opening day from half-term has been moved to Wednesday July 3, 2024. Release the boys early enough," read a message from the school to parents.

Some parents failed to take their children to school fearing that the protests may intensity during the day. 

Some learners were caught up in the protests after Hospital Road was blocked by protesters.

"Good morning team, you all know that our Form One and Four are reporting back tomorrow, the challenge is with Form Two and Three. Given the prevailing circumstances, I urge those who will manage to allow their girls to report tomorrow; we have no objection," read a message from Sironga Girls High School.

Some parents in Siaya town also did not release their children for fear of the nationwide protests. Most of town’s streets remained deserted while businesses were closed.

“Last week, one person was shot dead and that means the safety of my children is not guaranteed,” Mr John Ouma, a father of three, said.

Schools located in the rural areas went on with their lessons as usual; Wang Chieng Primary School in West Alego, Upanda Primary School and Palpal Primary School all had their programmes uninterrupted.

Reporting by David Muchunguh, George Odiwuor, Ruth Mbula and Kassim Adinasi