Education Cabinet Secretary (CS) George Magoha on Wednesday, revealed that only 15-20 pupils will be allowed per class ahead of scheduled school’s re-opening in September.
The CS revealed this while in Kitui County, where he toured the Kitui County Textiles Centre (Kicotec) to assess its capacity to manufacture quality face masks for school children.
Prof Magoha noted that experts from the Ministry of Health had advised that classrooms had to be decongested to curb infections and spread of the coronavirus.
“We have been advised by the Ministry of Health that a class should have between 15 and 20 students. Therefore you all know this is going to be a big challenge because schools do not have sufficient learning facilities” he said.
While admitting that it will be a tall order for the government to accommodate all the learners in the existing school facilities, he also revealed that they are racing against time to ensure schools have the necessary health equipments including face masks, sanitizers, thermal guns, and handwashing tanks before reopening.
Wakajuaness.Com’s editorial desk has since reached out to principals of different secondary schools across the country, to get their sentiments on the latest remarks and their viability in respective schools.
Joseph Wafula Mulongo- St. Pius Katelenyang High School
According to Mr. Wafula, the move to have 15-20 pupils per class will only be applicable, if they allow a section of students to be back, for instance, Form fours only.
” If we have only form fours, and let’s say form threes, there will be no problem. This is because in most schools, like in mine, we have an average of 50 students per class. So if you are talking about 15-20 pupils, one class is split into two. So definitely, there will be no enough streams to accommodate students in classes,” he said.
The Principal also raised his worries on the availability of staff if that is to be applicable, noting that schools were suffering from lack of teachers even before the pandemic.
” Before even we split, we have a very high shortage of teachers. How are those other classes going to be handled? That is the challenge. Furthermore, if we manage classes, what about the dormitories? How will students be distanced when the dormitories they are usually very squeezed? he posed.
Mr. Wafula opines that the schools should be opened partially, so that they remove the backlog of the form fours.
” Let us have even if it is the form fours and form threes alone in school, but let us not have our children staying at home like this,” he opined.
Dominic Maingi- Mbooni Boys High School
Mr. Maingi noted that the move will only be realistic if the governments invest in serious infrastructural developments.
” One thing that is apparent is that for the government to attain those numbers, there is need for serious infrastructural developments, increasing them by three to four times in the majority of the schools including mine,” he said.
According to him, this is a tall order but can be attained only if the government purpose to increase funding on infrastructure although it will take time. Further, Mr. Maingi said that since nobody knows when the curve will flatten, the government should lay measures now.
” According to me, this curve will not normalize soon. It is prudent that the government puts measures in law now, because nobody knows when the curve will flatten. The damage done is so high, because we are talking about a whole lot of generation, and the more they stay home, the higher the damage” Maingi said.
Ismael Mabunde- Bukembe Salvation Army Secondary School
According to Mr. Mabunde, if it is only candidates who will be reporting back, it will be possible. This, he exemplified with the numbers in his school.
“As a school, we have 139 candidates, and we are a two streamed school. So if it is only the candidates, it will be possible. If the whole school comes, with a population of 700 students and 15-20 students per class, that means we need at least 35 streams, which is not possible,” he stated.
Mr. Mabunde added that coming up with the infrastructural developments will be a challenge, especially to the sub-county schools which have limited resources.
” Even if we are going to have open learning, it is a challenge to the majority of the schools, especially the sub-county schools which have got very limited resources. Moreover, if the whole school will report back, more staff will also be needed but if it is only form-fours, it will be very possible” Mabunde opined.
Petronilla Khaemba Kadenge- Chavavo Secondary School
Mrs. Kadenge says that if the whole school will be coming back, it won’t be possible to achieve that since classes and staff will have to be tripled.
“It is not even possible because of inadequate infrastructure. By September schools will not have tripled classes with that kind of arrangement. We have been having classes that accommodate over 70 students, so where do we get the other rooms?” she queried.
According to her, apart from the classes, the staff, including teachers, will also have to be increased since they co-relate.
“It means tripling the streams. What you have you multiply by three, including the staff, because they co-relate and increasing classes means the workload has to go up and even fitting those lessons in the time table won’t be possible” she said.
Mrs. Kadenge has no doubt that if it is only form-fours who will be coming back, there is no worry since it will be manageable.
“Form-fours it is okay because that is actually what we have been doing during KCSE when other students are not there. They can occupy the other classrooms for students” she stated.
On waiting for the COVID-19 curve to flatten before the resumption of schools, she says it is not a good idea because nobody knows when the virus will end, and life must now move on with the virus. This includes the higher learning institutions.
“This is a world pandemic. When we think of flatening the curve and the numbers are soaring up, I don’t know what to do. In the long-run, we will have to live with this problem whether there is space or not. For instance, what will they do with universities where others need to join while those who are there presently also need to resume and so forth. Everything cannot stagnate” she said.