With the disruption of the school timetables over the COVID-19 pandemic, questions have been rife amongst Kenyans, with the most recent speculations being that students might be forced to repeat classes given the disruption.
The whispers have been informed by the cancellation of various academic programs, one of the most notable being the April certificate and diploma examinations for early childhood development and special needs education.
Another reason is the warning from several educationists who have told Kenyans to brace for the loss of an entire academic year – if COVID-19 persists for another three months.
Education CS George Magoha, however, has moved to allay Kenyans’ fear by informing that after the disease is controlled, the calendar can be readjusted and the curriculum carries on with the effects of the COVID-19 in mind.
Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha at KNEC Offices in Nairobi on December 18, 2019SIMON KIRAGUKENYANS.CO.KE
Speaking exclusively to Kenyans.co.ke on Thursday, April 2, Magoha clarified that as of yet, the ministry had not made a conclusive decision on the welfare of the students, including those sitting their examinations.
“If by the grace of God the COVID-19 pandemic is controlled, we will adjust the calendar and carry on. If it is not controlled, a decision will be made at that time,” he stated.
He, however, did not give an exact timeline as he insisted that the country finds itself in a tricky place given the outbreak of the pandemic that has so far recorded 81 cases in the country.
“It is what all Kenyans know that I know too. None of us knows when the virus will end. Let us just wait and see what will happen. If a decision is going to be made, it shall be made. None has been as of yet and we are all hoping for the best.
“The parents should also not worry about the exams. They should worry about the children. The good news is that they [the children] are at home safe with their parents,” he stated.
Magoha further added that the government’s biggest focus was also on the health and well-being of the children as opposed to the school timetable and oncoming examinations.
“Nobody is going to take a risk where a teacher brings the disease from outside to the school and affects thousands of students and then we lose control just like other countries have.
“At the moment, we are not even thinking about exams. We are thinking about our children. This is something big. Have you ever imagined something like this?” he asked.
Military officer pictured taking pupils through their lessons, picture undated.
Magoha’s assertions were further reinforced by Elimu Yetu Coalition CEO Janet Muthoni who informed that even if the pandemic lasts for a longer period, the ministry would make educational decisions with the effects of the pandemic in mind.
“I think how the education curriculum runs, it is not so much about the calendar but about the content that the learners have been able to cover.
“I am sure that the ministry of education will look at the content that the learners have been able to gather and then against that, they will give another timetable that gives learners enough time to cover the content.
“The ministry and everyone in the education sector is alive to the effect that the virus has had on the learners, and therefore I am sure that everything is not static and can be adjusted by the ministry.
According to data from the ministry, a total of 8.7 million learners have been registered under the newly introduced computer data system National Education Management Information System (NEMIS)