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Education Cabinet Secretary Prof George Magoha/FILE/PSCU

Corona Virus

Magoha defends virtual learning, says teachers to offer catch-up sessions once schools reopen

NAIROBI, Kenya May 7 – Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha has assured that the normal school syllabus for all students will continue from where it stopped if and when schools re-open.

Schools have remained shut for 52 days now since they were closed in Mid-March to prevent the spread of coronavirus that has so far infected 582 people in the country.

CS Magoha gave the assurance on Thursday during a meeting with members of the National Assembly in the Education Committee, calming fears by thousands of parents and guardians who had expressed concerns over the inequality government sponsored e-learning programs would create given underprivileged students may not have devices from where they can access the content.

“In order to be fair to all the children who in my opinion must be treated equally, when schools re-open we shall ensure that the children cover what they have lost,” he said.

The legislators had voiced concerns over the effectiveness of the e-learning programs that are being spearheaded by the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) in conjunction with media partners led by State broadcaster KBC.

Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali had specifically petitioned the House to seek answers from CS Magoga who has been categorical that the government was doing its best to facilitate leaning for the over 15 million learners who are at home.

While noting that the initiative was timely and proved to be engaging for the learners during this period, CS Magoha told members in the Julius Melly-led committee that it was not lost to government that there were indeed challenges faced by some learners in accessing the services.

“The government has the best of intentions but perhaps it is not possible to reach all the children at the state of our development and so the issue if the government is reaching everybody should not be a point of argument,” he said.

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Prof Magoha stated that different scenarios on the way forward will be presented by the education ministry in a fortnight and urged all Kenyans to exercise patience.  

“We should not pretend that we know when this pandemic is going to end. When government is being cautious it is not because we are flipflopping,” he said.

CS Magoha however, encouraged private tutors offering extra content besides the one provided by KICD to reach an agreement with parents and guardians before charging fees for their services.

Attempts by nominated MP Godrey Osotsi to shield CS Magoha from the irk of his colleagues by requesting the committee chair to have the ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru respond to the e-learning issue instead were quickly thwarted and ruled to be out of order.

“The issue of e-learning is multifaceted and did the committee make any effort to invite other stakeholders?” Osotsi interjected.

CS Magoha reiterated that this year’s national exams for both primary and secondary schools will proceed as planned even as consultations continue between various stakeholders on the same.

The Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examinations are scheduled to start on November 2 and end on November 3, while the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education exams are set to start on November 4 and end on November 30.

During the meeting, Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang warned that persons masquerading as teachers and providing e-learning will be arrested and prosecuted.

“We shall be ale to take action as provided by law,” he said.

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The education ministry has since shortened the August holidays for learning institutions by two weeks and made school day hours longer as part of the measures aimed at compensating time lost due to the coronavirus pandemic, even as it remains unclear when schools will reopen.

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