Confused Education Cabinet Secretary Professor George Magoha has now assured Kenyans that schools are at the brink of re-opening.
Responding to questions by the Parliamentary Committee on Education Wednesday, the CS said the Ministry is actively engaging stakeholders to ensure the safe resumption of basic education in line with the Presidential directive on COVID-19.
”I cannot give you a definite date, but I can assure you that it is time to reopen Learning Institutions because we do not expect any much difference now. We have to ask ourselves what will be different in January 2021, if there won’t be much difference, we need to move towards a consensus to reopen schools as soon as possible.” Said Magoha
He said that the reopening of all learning institutions should take cognizance of the guiding principles provided by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education.
The guidelines include reducing contact in learning institutions by having fewer learners at the same time will have a great impact in reducing COVID-19 cases and fatalities associated with reopening of institutions; Social distancing, handwashing with soap or use of sanitizers, wearing of masks/face shields and monitoring body temperature will have a great impact on reducing COVID-19 infections.
The CS noted that until a vaccine or cure is found for COVID-19, the country will have to take measures to mitigate its spread.
He, however, once again confused, said that decisions regarding the reopening of learning institutions may change as informed by prevailing circumstances and increased knowledge of the COVID-19.
Magoha at the same time said the country has a shortage of 125,480 teachers, and that the ministry in collaboration with the Teachers Service Commission has instituted several measures to address the situation.
The measures include recruitment of additional teachers yearly depending on the available resources, utilization of intern teachers, as well as training of teachers at both degree and diploma levels.
On payment of the Boards of Management teachers, the CS maintained that the Ministry’s policy requires that BOMs hire staff if they have the capacity to pay.
He clarified that they will only pay BoM teachers who are registered with the TSC, and not those contracted by BoMs. Prof. Magoha also warned that the ministry shall act on any teacher sending children home for any reason when schools reopen, saying that the Ministry has no policy on coercing parents and guardians in secondary schools to pay additional levies for payment of staff.