School re-opening: Schools still grappling with the new normal standards

Unveiling of new classrooms at Samitsi Primary. Im

Many schools have continued to experience several challenges barely a week after opening their doors for the 2021 learning after being closed for 9 months following the outbreak of the Corona virus disease.

In Kakamega county many schools are grappling with the realities of reopening without most of the proposed minimal requirements from both the ministries of health and education respectively.

According to the Kakamega North sub county director of education Isaac Kipraisi, many schools have opened even when they have not met the standards.

"We are aware that most of the schools are in bad shape caused by the heavy rains experienced early last year and with the closure of the same following the outbreak of the pandemic, the situation has even worsened, but we are working around the clock to see that at least there is a conducive environment for the learners."

The director said the sub county has recorded a 70 percent of desk distribution to primary schools while the secondary level is at 45 percent and observed that due to the expenses involved in making the lockers and chairs, very few carpenters had applied for the tender.

“As at late last year, we had fully equipped seven secondary schools with the lockers and chairs with five more having received half of the supply, however we have received complaints of how some carpenters are unable to meet the requirements and we will be revoking the tender and re-award them to those capable but generally we have supplied 70 percent of the total number in both primary and secondary, the total number of schools to receive the desks stands at 35 with secondary being 20 and primary 15.

In Samitsi special boarding and vocational school for the mental health, the head teacher Eunice Wamocho says it’s a tall order for the pupils to adhere to the covid-19 especially those switch epileptic conditions where they encounter seizures hence their desks should be made to suit their specification.

The school which has a population of 135 learners with only 4 teachers is heavily understaffed if observing the ministry of health regulations is anything to go by.

"How do you convince and keep some of our pupils who are mentally challenged to always wear masks considering they are uncomfortable around the ears nose and mouth, we will need a lot of personnel to keep them in control.

“Our teachers are ready to start executing their duties but our facilities are very limited as infrastructure remains a big challenge as they only have 6 latrines, inadequate water supply hence the need to have water storage tanks. We however are putting up a dormitory to space them accordingly and we further offer breakfast and lunch at school to entice them to come to school regularly.”

At the Samitsi primary under the auspices of Chief Principal Peter Masungo that has a population of 1020 pupils, the school is faced with acute shortage of 19 latrines to add on the existing 25 as each door should serve 24 girls and 30 boys respectively with only 11 classrooms operational less 69 as per the ministry of health regulations.

A random spot check in most of the sub county secondary schools still paints a grim picture of how the situation is as many of them are yet to comply with the required regulations.

 

Many principals who know fear being vindicated to talking to the press on the real issues affecting their schools confided that they were caught between a hard place and a rock as many schools did meet the required threshold.

 

However, some secondary schools are able to accommodate the students as proper mechanisms have been put in place in advance.

 

The school managers have at the same time expressed their anger in the manner the education cabinet secretary is handling education matters.

 

They said it was time the ministry of education treasury and the cabinet secretary (education) to give education matters the seriousness it deserves and stop intimidating school managers with unfounded statement concerning money to schools to pay for capitation, desks and Covid-19 that have remained a fairytale to many schools.

 

The managers maintained that they will be ready to come to the media when need arises as it was the only avenue they could address their pleas to the ministry and government at large.

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