Unicef has donated 700,000 masks to the Ministry of Education ahead of school reopening on January 4.
This comes after Education Cabinet Secretary Prof George Magoha said his ministry is facing a shortage of one million face masks to be provided to children from poor backgrounds ahead of schools’ re-opening next Monday.
“Out of the three million children identified by the government, we have already supplied close to one million to Grade Four, Eight and Form Four candidates who reported to schools, while Rivatex has already given us another one million,” he revealed.
Speaking on Monday while assessing the preparedness of schools in Seme, Kisumu County, Prof Magoha vowed that the government would do everything to bridge the gap.
The United Nations Children’s Fund has also provided over 10,000 solar radios with lights and textbooks to vulnerable households.
“This is reaching at least 40,000 children to assist with remote and blended learning ahead of full school reopening in January,” the agency said in a statement on Sunday.
Unicef said the move is part of a campaign to ensure all children, including those from vulnerable households, return to school and get quality education
“As children return to school, we are working with the government and partners to help ensure a smooth transition for learners, teachers and the wider community,” Unicef chief of Education Marilyn Hoar said.
In March, the government ordered for school closures to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus.
On October 12, students in Grade 4, Class 8 and Form 4 reopened school as part of the progressive school reopening.
Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha said the government will not be able to provide masks for all learners but only those from the poorest families.
“We have provided close to one million masks to schools that will be given to the poor families. The government will not be in a position to provide masks to each learner. Parents have to get into their pockets and at least provide two reusable masks for their learners. This should not be a hard thing to do,” he said.
Unicef is installing hand washing facilities in over 600 schools in line with the government’s back to school directive for learning institutions.
Since September, Unicef has worked with the government on guidelines for schools and is continuing to distribute soap and install hand-washing facilities in a number of schools.
The agency will also be supporting the Ministry of Education with a ‘Back to School’ campaign, that aims at ensuring all children, including those who had dropped out, return to schools safely when they reopen.