Last week, the Ministry of Education was put to task by parliament to come up with measures to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 in the education sector. Due to COVID19, His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered the closure of all schools and other learning institutions on March 15th, 2020 as part of the measures to control the spread of the virus. Although schools were expected to resume learning on May 4th, 2020, the Government extended the reopening date for one month to scale up national efforts to fight the spread of COVID-19. CS Magoha thereafter caused confusion when the Ministry of Education launched online learning efforts stating that learning should continue and students need to prepare for National examinations at the end of this year, COVID disruptions notwithstanding.
The National Assembly Departmental Committee on Education to summoned CS Magoha seeking clarity on whether education is ongoing or if schools are closed, as well as why exams cannot be postponed and what measures the Ministry has put in place to ensure safety of children as they plan for national examinations. CS Magoha, struggled through the meeting with parliamentarians last week. The scrutiny from parliament seems to have born some fruit.
At this point, it is clear that the effects of the pandemic have hurt the basic education sector, negatively affecting the rights of children and threatening to wipe out the gains made to stabilise the academic calendar. In a bid to reverse the negative tide, the Ministry of Education has appointed a NINE-member committee to take charge of the process of exploring the best possible strategies of restoring functionality of the education subsector.
The Kenya Institute for Curriculum Development Chairperson Dr. Sarah Ruto will chair the COVID-19 Education Response Committee whose work starts with immediate effect. Education Cabinet Secretary Prof. George Magoha launched the team at the KICD, Nairobi on 12th May 2020. Members of the Committee are:
· Mr. Indimuli Kahi Chairman, Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association
· Mr. Nicholas Gathemia Chairman, Kenya Primary Schools Heads Association
· Mr. Peter Ndoro CEO, Kenya Private Schools Association
· Mr. Nicholas Maiyo Chairman, Kenya Parents Association
· Ms. Augustine Muthigani Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops
· Ms. Jane Mwangi Kenya Association for Independent International Schools
· Dr. Nelson Makanda National
· Sheikh Munawar Khan Muslim Education Council
· Mr Peter Sitienei Chairman, Kenya Special Schools Heads Association
Ex Officio members
· Ms. Ruth Mugambi Kenya Institute for Curriculum Development
· Mr. Patrick Ochich Kenya National Examinations Council
· Mr. Gabriel Mathenge Teachers Service Commission
· Mr. Paul Kibet Director, Secondary Education, MoE
· Ms. Anne Gachoya Directorate of Policy, Partnerships and EAC
· Dr. Loice Ombajo Ministry of Health/University of Nairobi
The terms of reference of the COVID-19 Education Response Committee are to:
· Advise the Cabinet Secretary on the reopening of Basic Education institutions (Pre-Primary. Primary, Secondary Schools, Teacher Training Colleges and Adult Education Institutions.)
· Review and reorganise the school calendar as part of the COVID-19 postrecovery strategy.
· Advise the Cabinet Secretary on ways of onboarding students/pupils when the schools re-open.
· Document all COVID-19 related matters, lessons learnt and recommendations for future preparedness.
· Advise the Cabinet Secretary on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the demand for education by poor households and suggest mitigation measures.
· Advise the Cabinet Secretary on the Health and Safety measures to be put in place for the pupils/students, teachers and e ntire school community.
· Identify institutions that may have been adversely affected by COVID-19 and advise on mitigation and recovery measures.
· Submit regular reports to the Cabinet Secretary on the implementation progress of COVID-19 related programmes.
· Any other related duty that may be assigned by the Cabinet Secretary.
The Committee’s Secretariat will be located at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development.