BY OKELLO ALLAN
NAIROBI, Kenya|SHIFTMEDIA| After a 7-month break from school for over 17 million learners, the resumption of schools in Kenya on Monday due to a reduction on COVID 19 infections has been received with mixed perceptions.
Many schools opened for students with tight COVID 19 SOPs such as mandatory temperature checks, handwashing, and the wearing of masks.
Kenyan school children in grades four, eight and 12 returned to class on Monday, ending a months-long closure of all educational institutions in the country designed to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Many nations have grappled with how to reopen schools safely amid the pandemic, but in Kenya, where public and private schools were shut after the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in March, the closures have been among the longest in Africa.
But despite the opening of schools, reports indicate that not all students reported on day one due to financial difficulties.
Hundreds of thousands of people across the country have lost their jobs because of the pandemic, while the few who are still working are either receiving half-pay or on voluntary or suspended leave.
According to UNICEF, many children are expected to drop out of school due to these financial challenges.
Kenya’s drop-out rate for children at the primary level was estimated at 21 percent before the COVID-19 outbreak.
UNICEF has warned a long exposure could make the situation worse as the closure of learning centres exposes adolescent girls to a higher risk of sexual abuse, HIV and teenage pregnancy
Single mother, Judith Achieng, lost her job providing laundry services and cannot afford to send her five children back to school.
“I feel bad because my children always ask me ‘when I will go back to school?’ I don’t know what to tell them because I do not have money,” the 35-year-old said.
“It is sad because my friends are getting an education yet I am not,” said Achieng’s 13-year-old daughter, Lavynne Atieno.
The reopening of schools in Kenya comes amid reports of a decline in the number of COVID-19 infections.
Seventy-three cases were recorded as of Monday and 11 deaths, raising the total number of virus fatalities to 777.
Uganda reopens schools on 17 October
With just a few days for schools to reopen for candidate classes in Uganda, (Primary 7, 4 & 6) there is mixed reactions regarding the preparations for reopening by both schools and parents. Many schools, especially private schools are grappling with heavy financial challenges after 7 months of closure. President Museveni ordered for the closure of all schools in March 2o after the outbreak of the COVID 19 pandemic that has now left over 9,000 infected and at least 94 dead.
Most school owners we talked too expressed dismay regarding government failure to support them purchase gadgets such as temperature guns and sanitizers needed for observing of SOPs.