Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) wants the government to fund infrastructure development in schools to curb Covid-19 infection cases among learners and teachers.
The union also wants the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to employ and deploy more teachers to cope with the increased workload in learning institutions as a result of social distancing rule in line with the protocols set by the Ministry of Health.
Mr Wilson Sossion, the Knut secretary-general, said the government had failed to provide extra facilities in public institutions even as the disease spreads.
“It is unfortunate that the Ministry of Education has failed to provide extra infrastructure facilities in primary and secondary schools to cater for learners and avoid the spread of Covid -19,” said Mr Sossion.
Addressing a press conference at his Motigo home in Bomet County on Friday, Mr Sossion said the government had enough time and resources to build extra classrooms ahead of re-opening.
“The TSC and the government, besides building more classrooms, dormitories, and dining halls, should employ more teachers to cope with increased workload in schools,” he noted.
Mr Sossion said countries like Rwanda had constructed more classrooms to cope with the need for additional space in learning institutions, yet the Kenyan government with a better performing economy had failed to do better.
“We have failed to construct more classrooms, dormitories and libraries to cater for the learner yet countries that have poor economies have done better than us,” said Mr Sossion.
He said schools have the potential to be Covid-19 super incubation and spreading centres due to failure to comply with basic public health protocols set by the Ministry of Health.
Mr Sossion, an ODM nominated MP, said it was important for the government to provide masks, sanitisers and soaps to learners when the schools re-open on Monday to curb the spread of coronavirus.
“Opening schools at a time the country faces health workers’ strikes is ill-advised,” said Mr Sossion.
Similarly, Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot, his Bomet counterpart Christopher Langat, Konoin MP Brighton Yegon and Mr Japeth Mutai (Bureti) and Nelson Koech (Belgut) said the government should not experiment with school children in the backdrop of a second wave of Covid-19.
“The billions of shillings stolen through Kemsa Covid-19 deals are enough to be recovered and channelled towards expansion of classrooms, dormitories, purchase of desks, lockers and provision of other amenities to fight spread of Covid -19 in the country,” said Senator Cheruiyot.
They said it was sad the government had failed to construct more classrooms, dormitories, toilets and provide amenities to accommodate learners in schools under the social distancing policy to curb spread of Covid-19.
“Masks in public and private schools should be provided by the government to curb spread of Covid-19. The cost should not be passed on to parents and guardians,” Dr Langat, a former chairman of the Senate Committee on Education said.
“The government should use the tens of billions of shillings from donor agencies to buy masks for school children.”
He called on President Uhuru Kenyatta to mop up funds that had not been utilised by various ministries and channel them towards paying school fees for children in private and public schools.
Mr Koech said there was no running water in most schools yet some senior politicians were pushing for constitutional amendment under Building Bridges Initiative instead of focusing on sorting the mess in the health sector.
“The government should quickly end the strike by medics in public hospitals to deal with emergencies arising when schools re-open,” said Mr Koech.