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Activists wants to block reopening of schools in Kenya


Two activists in Homa Bay have filed a petition in court seeking to suspend the phased reopening of schools planned from Monday next week.

Michael Kojo and Evance Oloo claim many schools have not put in place necessary measures to ensure the spread of Covid-19 is minimised.

The case was filed before Homa Bay Senior Principal Magistrate Thomas Obutu on Wednesday who certified it as urgent.

Mr Kojo and Mr Oloo want the court to compel Education Cabinet Secretary Prof George Magoha to issue new dates for reopening of schools.

The activists propose January next year.

Most parents and learners were caught unawares when the government announced resumption of classes starting October 12.

The crash second term will take just 11 weeks, with schools closing on December 23, two days before Christmas. It will be a short holiday for the candidates and Grade Four learners as they will resume classes on January 4, 2021.

Candidates will sit their KCPE exams from March 22 to 24 while the KCSE exams will be administered from March 25 to April 16 2021.

kenyan-schoolsMr Kojo and Mr Oloo are, however, concerned about the fate and safety of learners who will go back to school on Monday.

The petitioners argued that the Ministry of Health has not given a greenlight that all schools are safe for learning.

This is based on the fact that some institutions were used as quarantine facilities when the outbreak of the virus was at its peak.

Mr Kojo, in the application, said health officers have not done enough assessment on some of the then quarantine facilities and declared that they are safe to accommodate learners.

“Opening the schools now can expose pupils in unprecedented danger,” Mr Kojo wrote in the petition.

He added that recommendations for closure of schools were made by the Ministry of Health, which should have also recommended reopening of schools.

“The Ministry of Education is acting against the Public Health Act by issuing health guidelines on school reopening instead of letting the Ministry of Health do so,” Mr Kojo added.

Meanwhile, proprietors of some private schools have converted classrooms in their schools into business hubs.

Schools in KenyaMany learners in such schools may have to be transferred to public schools which may add more pressure on efforts to maintain social distance.

Further, the petitioners accused Prof Magoha of changing the academic calendar without the approval of the National Assembly.

Mr Oloo said reopening of schools this year and sitting national exams next at the middle of next year will lead to illegal change of the academic calendar.

“It is illegal to change the academic calendar without legal backing. Any change of the academic calendar should be anchored in the law,” Mr Oloo said.

Prof Magoha, Ministry of Education, Teachers Service Commission, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe, Ministry of Health and the Attorney General Kihara Kariuku have been listed as the first, second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth respondents respectively.


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