Schools in Kenya were closed by the government in March 2020, when the first cases of coronavirus were confirmed. The Kenyan government recently directed that all schools partially re-open by 5 October 2020. The phased re-opening welcomed back students in Class Four, Class Eight, and Form Four.
The Quaker Education Commission led by the Education Secretary, Ben Nasikungu, surveyed six secondary and three primary schools within Bungoma County to assess challenges since re-opening. Ben reported:
“In March this year, the closure of schools due to the pandemic interrupted the learning of many students, who missed more than six months of formal education. Like all other schools in the country, Quaker schools are facing numerous challenges as a result of the prevailing conditions worldwide. First and foremost, the unavailability of running water for students to wash their hands. We encouraged school administrators to set up hand-washing stations. Secondly, the students, particularly in class four, have to be continuously reminded to put on masks. One good thing is that they know why masks are important. Lastly, social distancing poses a challenge, especially during break time for pupils in primary schools. On the other hand, the arrangement in classes and dormitories across all the schools is adequate.
“The Quaker Church is encouraged to provide counseling services for students. The closure of schools exposed adolescent girls to the risk of sexual abuse, HIV, and teenage pregnancy. Most Kenyan parents also lived from hand to mouth due to the loss of jobs and the need to provide for families. These hardships affect our students psychologically.
“Friends need to come together to ensure our schools’ re-opening is smooth for our students, teachers, and the wider school community. We hope that soon all students can be safe and flourish in our Quaker schools.”