In Northern Kenya, schools had closed one month before Covid-19. More than 2,340 out of almost 4,000 primary and secondary school teachers have left schools in Mandera, Wajir and Garissa counties.
The reliance on non-local teachers is due to systemic failure by successive regimes to marginalise North Frontier District (NDF) in view of secession aspiration of northerners in 1962.
No deliberate efforts have been made to build capacity of Northerners to have local teachers trained and employed as a possible solution.
Since March 2020, schools and higher learning institutions have remained closed due to the pandemic in Kenya.
Now reopening is a mountain task in NDF. With already stretched school infrastructure; pertinent questions on capacity and ability to reopen lingers in many minds.
Among proposed actions include provision of clean running water, liquid soaps, and placing of hand-washing facilities, sanitisers and disinfectants at strategic places.
Facemasks for each learner and thermo guns will also be provided a week before schools open.
Implementing the ministry of health guidelines in an already resources stretched region shall be difficult.
Most of these schools have no permanent water source. Few have underground water tanks, relying on water boozers to bring water at exorbitant price.
Some have no permanent wall parameters to control movements, and others limited classes with over 50 students per class and over-crowded dormitories.
Sadly, we can’t control the spread of Covid 19 amongst children. They assemble outside their homes and leave in groups; by the times they get to school, they could be affected already and there isn’t much teachers can do. Separating them thereafter won’t help.
Rural parents are already scared of Covid-19 and have been financially affected by its effect.
Early communication from government that schools shall reopen in January 2021 made parents plan for school fees and other financial expenses with that date in mind.
Nancy Macharia, Teachers Service commission Chief Executive Officer has adamantly refused to allow teachers be posted to North Eastern and has withdrawn those who were willingly serving in the region.
Some quarters argue the Somali communities must come out and be the first line of security for the teachers of in their neighborhoods. They have a duty to protect those teaching their children.
Discrediting the need of entire generation from the comfort of air-conditioned offices in TSC towers in Nairobi is not only selfish but also unreasonable at worst.
Macharia has never visited Schools in the North in her six-year tenure. She doesn’t seem to care either but truth be told teachers services are needed here.
Educationists in the North have argued that there aren’t enough classrooms and the number of teachers is way below the required international teacher-to-learner ratio.
Currently, the ratio in public primary schools is 70:1 against the recommended Kenyan ratio of 40:1.
In public secondary schools it stands at 100.1. Comparatively, in Ghana, it’s 30:1; South Africa, 33:1; Japan, 16:1; and Finland, 13.1.
Most students in NFD rely on boarding schools, but with drought ravaging the pastoralists, many of them might not attend class as they have migrating to far fledged areas of Somalia and Ethiopia in search of water and pasture, it remains to be seen the practically of having them in class for this term, notwithstanding the population of private schools