By Judy Makori; Senior Writer MOHI on Oct 16, 2020 11:26:50 AM
On Tuesday October 6th, The Kenyan Education Cabinet Secretary released a circular stating that the progressive reopening of schools was to commence. As per the details released, grade four, grade eight, and grade 12 students were asked to report back to school on Monday October 12th.
Come that Monday morning, MOHI students started arriving into our schools and in-class learning for grades 4, 8, and 12 has been going on since then.
According to MOHI’s Director of Missions, Leonard Chumo - who handles the education docket, at least 70% of grade 4, 8, and 12 students have reported to school this first week. MOHI is following up with the other 30% and we expect them to be back in class soon.
Chumo says MOHI has had to adopt some rapid strategies in order to adhere to all COVID-19 protocols and guidelines as required by the government.
These include use of face masks, physical distancing, monitoring of body temperature, handwashing and observance of high levels of hygiene in all schools.
“We are definitely using a lot more water across all of our centers,” he says. “In some centers, the water supply is not a challenge while it is sporadic in others. To mitigate this, we have made plans to purchase moveable water tanks. These will help us transport water to the centers that do not have a reliable water supply.”
At the entrance in all our centers, we have set up handwashing stations and the body temperature of learners and staff alike is being taken. Chumo also says MOHI’s health department has set up protocols to identify anyone with COVID-19 symptoms and isolation rooms are already in place.
With just grade four, grade eight, and grade 12 students being back in school, physical distancing has been easy to observe. Chumo says the classes have a maximum of 20 students with the rest spread to other classes. He says they have had teachers, from the other grades, work with the “spill-over” classes.
“In terms of space and teachers to teach the classes, we are okay for now,” Chumo says. “But there are indications from government sources that all other grades may be recalled either at the end of this month or early November. If this happens, then we will have a challenge,” he says pensively.
As we wait for the official directive from the government, Chumo says MOHI has identified possible premises that can be rented to hold our students. He says all ongoing constructions have also been taken a notch higher and we are working closely with vendors to ensure not a single project stalls. Chumo and his team have also had extensive meetings with teachers seeking their collaboration because the workload is set to increase.
“We are in a real marathon and we need your prayers and support,” Chumo says. “I thank God for our teachers who have come on board and are ready to take on the extra load. They will now have 27 classes in a week - up from about 20 classes. It is all-hands-on-deck and we are all pulling together to ensure that everything falls into place,” he says.
As Director of Missions, all programs run across MOHI fall in his docket and Chumo tells me his team is rallying all other programs to fully support the education program.
He says they are working closely with Spiritual Development Officers (SDOs) to offer spiritual support and counselling to students and families, they are putting health programs in place to prevent the possibility of disease outbreak and using economic empowerment programs to support parents wherever they need help to have their children well settled in school.
“On the issue of masks especially. Our students are coming to school with all types of masks and we need to rectify this,” he says.
With the thousands of children we support, availing four masks for each child is no mean feat. However, with support from our partners, Chumo says the production unit in Kariobangi has capacity to meet this demand.
We are indeed living in unprecedented times and have experienced many changes in life as we know it. With schools unexpectedly resuming in October, the Kenyan education calendar has effectively been altered for good.
As per the government’s circular, students are now in their second term and will be in school for 11 weeks (until December 23rd). They will break for a one week holiday then resume for the third term on January 4th 2021.
From March 22nd to the 24th, grade eight students will sit for their national primary school exit exams. Their counterparts in grade 12 will start their national exams on March 25th until April 16th.
We are all; parents, teachers and students alike, doing our best to adjust to this new phase of education in Kenya. As an organisation working among disadvantaged communities, we cannot successfully implement all the required changes, and do so on time, without your support.
Your continued partnership will help us ensure that all 20,000 of our students remain in school and enjoy a quality, Christ-centered education.