EDUCATION SECTOR RESPONSE TO THE NATIONAL COVID-19 CONTAINMENT MEASURES
During his July 26, 2020 address to the Nation on the status of the COVID 19 pandemic, His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta directed the Ministry of Education, in consultation with all stakeholders, to inform Kenyans on the status of the education sector.
In compliance with the directive, the Ministry of Education has today met with all stakeholders to deliberate on the current preparedness for phased reopening of Teacher Training Colleges, TVET and Universities as earlier intended starting from September 1st, 2020.
Today’s meeting was held on the understanding that the decision to reopen all basic education learning institutions in January 2020 is upheld as agreed at an earlier meeting of education stakeholders held here on July 7th 2020.
At today’s meeting, the stakeholders noted that:
1. The current situation regarding the COVID-19 situation has kept worsening, with an average number of new positive cases daily averaging 600 in the last one week. As of yesterday, the number of reported positive cases stood at 19,125, some of them affecting staff of universities and colleges. The University of Nairobi has already lost four members of staff as a result of COVID-19.
2. Since July 7, 2020, the Ministry has embarked on putting in place measures to ensure smooth reopening of higher learning institutions in line with COVID-19 protocols, while taking cognisant of the developments in the pandemic emanating from the Ministry of Health.
3. A survey of all Teacher Training Colleges, Universities and TVET institutions has shown that few of them have put in place necessary measures to comply with the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 protocols that can guarantee safety of staff and learners once they reopen.
4. The final decision on the reopening of the TTC’s, TVETs and universities will be dependent on the guidance from the Ministry of Health.
Against this background, the stakeholders have resolved as follows:
1. All TTCs, TVETs and Universities will reopen for face-to-face sessions in January 2021.
2. A robust multi-sectoral approach will be employed to step up preparedness for reopening in compliance with MOH protocols on mitigating the COVID-19 effects.
3. Universities should continue offering virtual learning, examinations and virtual graduations but in strict adherence observance to quality measures set by the Commission for University Education’s the University Standards and Guidelines. Priority should be given to final year students to ensure they can graduate. So far, Dedan Kimathi University and Riara University have held virtual graduations. Egerton University is also set to hold a virtual graduation on 31st July, 2020 while the University of Nairobi is set to hold a virtual graduation on 25th September, 2020.
4. Virtual orientation of first year students has been successfully undertaken in KCA University in May, 2020 and Dedan Kimathi University in June-July, 2020. This should be extended to other universities.
5. All institutions will continue making arrangements for re-opening based on the provided guidelines and checklists. However, authorization to re-open for face to face teaching, learning and research, will be based on further guidance from Ministry of Health based on the dynamics of preparedness.
6. The Ministry is looking into ways of supporting continued on-line learning for University students by supporting HELB to facilitate them for the acquisition of on-line learning facilities and resources.
At the Basic Education, the stakeholders observed that, although the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development continues to provide remote learning through radio, television and online programmes, there are some children who are unable to access these programmes. The Ministry of Education and TSC, using a multi-agency approach, and in collaboration with chiefs and the Nyumba Kumi initiative, will implement a community-based learning approach where teachers will be mapped with learners to offer learning at no cost. The TSC will provide guidelines on the implementation of the programme.
The Government has set aside sufficient funds to pay Board of Management teachers, non- teaching staff including security men and women to ensure proper maintenance and safety in schools.
The Ministry wishes to assure all stakeholders that a rigorous programme is place to monitor the COVID-19 situation in the country and will keep informing the country on the best steps to take to ensure normal operations within the sector resume when safety of learners and staff can be guaranteed.