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Reopening Of Schools In North Eastern Kenya Might Be Challenging Even As Higher Education Resumes

A COVID-19 task force established by Education Cabinet Secretary Professor George Magoha has recommended phased resumption of face-to-face learning.

The north-Eastern part of Kenya has been for a long time managed schools without many teachers as compared to other parts. The region with about 4000 non-local teachers has seen about half of them move out of Wajir, Mandera and Garissa County since school closure in March 2020.

Al-Shabaab has been accused of trying to incite what is termed as 'religious war' between Christians and Muslims and with Kenyan state since the Kenyan Defence Forces(KDF) set foot in Somalia to battle them.

Failure by various regimes to empower the capacity of the region to train and employ local teachers can be blamed for the incapacity of enough teachers in NEP schools. It's on no doubt that since independence, the former North-Eastern Province of Kenya has remained marginalized.

Some Somali communities have been strongly blamed as well for the slow development in the region by not standing in the front row to defend non-local teachers in their midst, who play a major responsibility in shaping the children's future and the society at large.

Professor Magoha has been directed by President Uhuru Kenyatta to come up with reopening strategies even as teachers remain in schools preparing for the resumption as they wait for the official reopening date and schedule to be announced by the Ministry of Education.

Re-opening schools in the North-Eastern will be challenging as the Health protocols suggest schools to have enough, clean running water, face masks, sanitizers, thermo guns and strategic handwashing Centres. Additionally, the TSC has been reluctant to post teachers in North Eastern Kenya due to apparent reasons.

Majority of learning institutions lack a stable source of water, water storage facilities. They depend on expensive water bowsers. Some schools are fenceless hence no control power over entry and exit of persons in the institution. Classes and dormitories are overcrowded and decongested. 

Most learners depend on boarding schools in the drought ravaging region where pastoralism is the norm of the day which affects attendance in schools as families migrate from one place to another between the Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenyan regions in search of water and pasture.

According to 'The Star,' Kenya's primary school Teacher-student ratio (70:1) doubles that of Ghana (30:1) and South Africa (33:1), exceeds five times that of Finland (13:1) against the government recommended ratio of 40:1. The secondary school teacher-student ratio in Kenya hung at 100:1.

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