By Sharon Atieno
Though the Kenyan government had earlier on declared that institutions of higher learning would re-open on 1st September, 2020, the plan has been put on hold and a new date set for face-to-face learning sessions.
This was part of the resolutions made by education stakeholders in a Nairobi meeting to deliberate on the current preparedness for phased reopening of Teacher Training Colleges, Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) institutes and Universities.
Citing that the COVID-19 situation has kept worsening and affected some members of staff and students, and only few of the higher learning institutions have put in place measures to comply with the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 protocols to guarantee safety of staff and learners upon reopening, the stakeholders agreed that the face-to-face learning should resume in January, 2021.
In the meantime, universities should continue offering virtual learning examinations and virtual graduations but in strict adherence observance to quality measures set by the Commission for University Education’s the University Standards and Guidelines, a statement from the Ministry of Education reads.
So far, two universities have held virtual graduations, Dedan Kimathi University and Riara University; with Egerton University and the University of Nairobi set to hold theirs on 31st July, 2020 and 25th September, 2020 respectively.
Universities were also urged to carry out virtual orientation for first year students as was undertaken by KCA University and Dedan Kimathi University.
The stakeholders also agreed that institutions will continue making arrangements for re-opening based on the provided guidelines and checklists with, authorization to re-open for face to face teaching, learning and research, being based on further guidance from Ministry of Health based on the dynamics of preparedness.
The Ministry of Education noted that it is looking into ways of supporting continued on-line learning for University students by supporting Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) to facilitate them for the acquisition of on-line learning facilities and resources.
With regards to basic education, the Ministry of Education and Teachers Service Commission (TSC), using a multi-agency approach, and in collaboration with chiefs and the Nyumba Kumi initiative will implement a community-based learning approach where teachers will be mapped with learners to offer learning at no cost with TSC providing guidelines on the implementation of the programme.
In addition, the Government has set aside sufficient funds to pay Board of Management teachers, non-teaching staff including security men and women to ensure proper maintenance and safety in schools.