President Uhuru Kenyatta has announced the allocation of Sh6.5billion to the ministry of education as he indicated that schools will be reopening soon.
Speaking during the Seventh Presidential address on the coronavirus pandemic the eight-point economic stimulus programme on Saturday, President Kenyatta said he was aware of the anxiety weighing on the minds of parents and their children in regard to when schools will re-open.
“We will in the very near future, be communicating, what plans and programmes we have for the education sector. In that regard, we have allocated an additional budget of Sh6.5 billion to the Ministry of Education,” said Mr Kenyatta.
He said the funds, will go towards the recruitment of 10,000 teachers and 1,000 ICT interns to support digital learning.
“The programme will also support the improvement of school infrastructure, including acquisition of 250,000 locally fabricated desks. The aim is to get thousands of our graduates off the bench and into action while we support local artisans and builders businesses,” said Mr Kenyatta.
On Friday, a task force on reopening of schools concluded the exercise to collect views from Kenyans and organisational institutional on schools should re-open amid different opinion from stakeholders.
Already sharp divisions have emerged among education stakeholders on when schools should reopen after closing on March 15 due to outbreak of coronavirus in the country.
The taskforce on Covid-19 education response committee chaired by Dr Sara Ruto on Friday said it had received 3,000 individual and institutional submissions on re-opening of schools.
The debate comes a week after 70 students in France contracted coronavirus few days after re-opening of schools while in an easing of coronavirus lockdown.
This forced their government to shut down the schools immediately in order not to put children at risk.
Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) is proposing partial opening of schools by June 15 for national examination candidates.
In a memorandum to the committee, Kuppet is proposing that students in Form Three, Class Six and Seven be admitted to schools by August.
“While these recommendations are drawn from the experiences of other countries, Ministry of Health should have the final authority on partial re-opening of learning institutions,” said Kuppet Secretary-General Akelo Misori.
Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) wants the school to reopen once the disease has been contained.
“Let them resume social programmes first before schools. Safety of students and teachers is number one and that is still not guaranteed by hurried opening,” said Knut Secretary-General Wilson Sossion.
Kuppet proposed that the additional admission of students to schools will be done after a thorough assessment of the one-month implementation of Covid-19 containment measures in schools and colleges.
Defending schools opening, Kuppet cited a study by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) on prolonged closure of schools.
Kuppet said adverse consequences of school closures lead to rise in dropout rates, increased exposure to violence and exploitation, confusion and stress for teachers and poor nutrition for children, who rely on free or discounted meals provided at schools.