The Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) Secretary General Wilson Sossion has said that for school to reopen, government must look at the safety state of teachers and learners, which can only be guaranteed after the pandemic has been fully contained.
Speaking in an interview with a local TV station on Monday, Sossion advised that it is better to temper with the academic calendar than put the lives of teachers and learners at risk.
“It is better to lose an academic year than to lose lives. Reopening schools will make it difficult to enforce social distancing. Before that, we must ensure safety of teachers and learners,” said Hon. Sossion.
The nominated MP said that KNUT has a raft of recommendations which can be useful for the ministry.
“We recommend that teachers should teach nearer their localities and learners attend school near localities to contain the situation,” he said.
He added that, “For schools to reopen, we need a guarantee on the safety of teachers and learners. This has to be after the fight against Covid-19 has been won in the communities. Parents will not release their children to go to school as long as the positive cases are reported.”
Amos Kaburu, Program Manager at PAL Network said that Schools will open at one point, adding that measures taken by Ministry of Education are welcomed and stakeholders should give their views.
“At the end of the day, we want a decision that will be in the best interest of learners,” said Kaburu.
However, kaburu took a notch on the ministry of education bid to run digital learning programs, which he said is a good move cannot solve the current situation.
“We have designed our education to be defined by a classroom setting. It is expecting too much to assume that learning is taking place now online optimally. At this point, technology may not solve the problem in education,” he added.
KNU has been pushing for all education stakeholders’ inclusion to the curriculum review taskforce chaired by Prof Fatuma Chege and the Covid-19 education response committee chaired by Dr. Sarah Ruto to no avail.
“We would have wanted KNUT and other unions, medical personnel, County Governments among other stakeholders to be part of the team on the taskforce,” said the SG.
Sossion earlier wrote a letter to Education CS Prof George Magoha demanding for their place in the taskforce and in the Covid-19 education response committee.
According to the letter the union, despite being a principal player in the basic education sector, has been excluded from major decision making process that would define the future of education in the country.
The letter also urges the Education CS to ensure schools are Covid-19-free zones before teaching resumes.
It further proposes that the Covid-19 emergency response fund be established by the National Treasury to mobilize resources to manage the pandemic in public schools and colleges, that would cushion parents, guardians and boards of management against high cost of school operation brought by partial lockdown.
Meanwhile, the Sara Ruto led Covid-19 education response committee public commends timeline will be elapsing on Friday, with parents required to submit their recommendations to a taskforce on re-opening of schools.
The recommendations can be submitted asw written memoranda to the Secretariat, which is based at Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) by e-mail to [email protected] or through P.O. Box 30231-00100, Nairobi.