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Union official calls for caution on schools re-opening

The  Machakos Kenya Union of Post Primary Education (KUPPET) Executive Secretary, Musembi Katuku has called upon the government go slow when rethinking of re-opening education institutions.

Speaking to the press in Machakos on Tuesday, Katuku said it was too early to mull the possibility of opening schools at a time when the number of Covid-19 cases are on the rise in the country.

The unionist warned that any talk of students going back to school soon is not tenable at this time and the best the government can do is ensure the deadly virus which has claimed 36 Kenyans is contained first.

“Let us first embrace the pandemic and also learn to stay with it just like Malaria. Once we are there, let us then start thinking about education and the opening of our schools after the disease has been brought under control,” said Musembi who is also a member of the Machakos County Education Board.

Drawing  examples from Spain, Italy and France that have borne the brunt of the pandemic after losing hundreds of their citizens to Covid-19, the unionist said the most ideal thing for Kenya to do for now, is ease restriction on other sectors like the hospitality industry to help keep the economy afloat, before thinking of allowing pupils and teachers to go back to class.

He said as a union, they are opposed to any idea of asking teachers to go back to school soon owing to the risk of being infected with the disease.

“We are not ready to allow teachers to go back to school when this thing (disease) is on. The teachers can also get it from students who are travelling from counties which have confirmed cases such as Mombasa, Wajir, Mandera and Nairobi. This is not the time to give ultimatums but to work together to end the pandemic,” he added.

He says the Ministry of Education should however first consider allowing class eight and form four students back to class owing to the fact that they are set to sit for their national exams towards the end of the year, adding that the current online learning platform may never achieve much due to logistical challenges.

The  Education Cabinet Secretary(CS), Prof. George Magoha recently issued a strong indication to the effect that schools may remain closed for much longer than expected saying the safety of pupils was of paramount importance.

Initially the government had floated the idea of reopening schools by June 4, but this was dispelled after Magoha said any decisions to do so would depend on the prevailing situation at the time.

The government closed schools among other sectors on March 15 this year after three Covid-19 cases were recorded in the country.

To date, Kenya has recorded a total of 715 infections, 259 recoveries and 36 deaths arising from the pandemic.

Globally, the disease has already claimed 286,353 people with 1.4 million recoveries as at May 12.

More than 4 million others have been infected with the coronavirus even as countries work round the clock to find a vaccine for the disease.

By  Samuel Maina

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