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Kenya: Magoha picks committee to advise on school reopening

Africa/Kenya/17-05-2020/Author: Suleiman Yeri/Source:

Education Cabinet Secretary Prof. George Magoha has appointed a 10 member committee to explore the best possible strategies of restoring normalcy in the basic education sector.

The committee which starts its work immediately will be headed by Kenya Institute for Curriculum Development Chairperson Dr Sarah Ruto.

The members are Indimuli Kahi, Chair Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association, Nicholas Gathemia, Chair Kenya Primary Schools Heads Association, Peter Ndoro, CEO Kenya Private Schools Association, Jane Mwangi of the Kenya Association for Independent International schools, Peter Sitienei, chair Kenya Special Schools Heads Association

The committee will also have six ex-official members which include Ruth Mugambi, Patrick Ochich, Gabriel Mathenge, Paul Kibet, Ann Gachoya and Dr Loice Ombajo.

The committee is mandated to advise the Cabinet Secretary on timing for the reopening of basic education institutions including boarding schools, review and reorganization of the school calendar.

Dr Ruto and her team will also advise on the health and safety measures to be put in place by all schools, in addition to identifying institutions adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic and appropriate mitigation and recovery measures.

The government postponed the re-opening of schools for one month to give more time for the fight against the spread of the contagious disease.

Magoha last Thursday while appearing before the National Assembly Education and Research committee promised in two weeks to release possible scenarios in the school calendar in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said the safety of learners is a priority even it means pushing the national exams and re-opening of schools which remains a concern for many to next year.

“If children are going to stay at home for one year, so be it, because they are safe there. The exams can be done next year,” Magoha told the MPs.

The terms of reference of the COVID-19 Education Response Committee are to:

  • Advise the Cabinet Secretary on the reopening of Basic Education institutions (Pre-Primary. Primary, Secondary Schools, Teacher Training Colleges and Adult Education Institutions.)
  • Review and reorganise the school calendar as part of the COVID-19 post-recovery strategy.
  • Advise the Cabinet Secretary on ways of onboarding students/pupils when the schools re-open.
  • Document all COVID-19 related matters, lessons learnt and recommendations for future preparedness.
  • Advise the Cabinet Secretary on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the demand for education by poor households and suggest mitigation measures.
  • Advise the Cabinet Secretary on the Health and Safety measures to be put in place for the pupils/students, teachers and entire school community.
  • Identify institutions that may have been adversely affected by COVID-19 and advise on mitigation and recovery measures.
  • Submit regular reports to the Cabinet Secretary on the implementation progress of COVID-19 related programmes.
  • Any other related duty that may be assigned by the Cabinet Secretary.

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Kenya launches the Great Covid-19 innovation challenge

Africa/Kenya/03-05-2020/Author(a): Claire Wanja/Source:

Kenya through Konza Technopolis Development Authority (KoTDA), has partnered with the Association of Countrywide Innovation Hubs,private sector,academia,Non-Governmental Organizations and the United Nations Development Program(UNDP), to launch the Great Covid-19 Innovation Challenge.

Konza Technopolis has convened multiple stakeholders to co-create technology-based solutions, by harnessing the creativity and innovative capabilities of Kenyans and Africans towards the challenges emerging from COVID19.

Eng. John Tanui, the Chief Executive officer KoTDA, said that “KoTDA is honored to lead this Great Challenge, as the convener of the technology and innovation ecosystem in Kenya. It is at times of adversity as espoused by COVID-19, that innovators are called upon to step up to the challenge and offer solutions. The hackathon will focus on three thematic challenge areas of around COVID-19, namely, Health Systems Innovation, Food Systems Innovation and dignified work.”

On his part, Mr.Joe Mucheru, the Cabinet Secretary for ICT and Youth Affairs said that “the Ministry of ICT has in place, a national data center located and managed by KoTDA, that will offer a platform for hosting the applications emerging from the challenge. One envisioned product is a call center solution targeted at front line health workers to access information, provide feed-back and make prompt decisions on managing the pandemic.”

Mr. Philip Thigo, Senior Director for Africa at Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Global Management said that “this Challenge is a testament to the power of multi-stakeholder collaborations in harnessing the power of emerging technologies and its ability to proffer practical solutions to pressing developmental challenges. We welcome the Government’s commitment to innovation and offer our capabilities towards this effort as one of the Top 5 Universities best placed to solve the world’s biggest Challenges.”

“The pandemic has proved that local solutions to such a global challenge are critical to the country’s efforts to mitigate and flatten the curve. Through collaboration, partnership,co-creation of ideas and harnessing the skills of youth, Kenya stands, a chance of mitigating the effects of the pandemic. As an association, we are keen to work with the government through the Konza innovation ecosystem to find solutions that can help the country overcome the pandemic while at the same time provide companies with solutions to mitigate social and business impacts.”said David Ogiga, Chairman, Association of Countryside Innovation hubs.

Since the declaration of Covid -19 as a global pandemic, the world has moved with speed to find ways of mitigating the effects of the pandemic as well as provide solutions to communities who have had to change the way they live, learn and work.

The pandemic was first reported in Kenya on 13th March. Since then, the country has been going through unprecedented times driven by the need to Isolate and reduce the spread of the pandemic. This new social norm has adversely affected all sectors of our economy. This situation, therefore, calls for creative and effective solutions to ensure preservation of life and productivity of Kenyans and the world.

Globally, technology and innovation centers and hubs are at the forefront of developing solutions towards the COVID19 pandemic. KoTDA as one such center of excellence in Technology advancement has taken the initiative to partner with other like-minded institutions to advance solutions as a practical response to mitigating against the effects and impacts of the pandemic and building resiliency Post COVID.

KoTDA wishes to acknowledge the partnership and support of Huawei, Oracle, Infonet, Microsoft,UK-Kenya Tech Hubs, Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Global Management, Moi University, Machakos University,Dedan Kimathi University,Meru University, Strathmore University and Technical University of Kenya.

Konza Technopolis is a vision 2030 project whose objective is to position Kenya as knowledge-based economy and a preferred Science, Technology and Innovation destination.

Through building a vibrant innovation ecosystem, Konza Technopolis shall focus on key sectors of the economy, among them, Life Science, Engineering and ICT/ITES that will enhance local innovation, R&D, entrepreneurship and Technology enterprise formation culture.

Konza Technopolis Development Authority (KoTDA) will initiate programs that will support the generation of 17,000 direct jobs and 30,000 residents on completion of phase 1 and over 200,000 residents on its completion.

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USA: Amazon-owned grocery chain workers stage ‘sickout’ for better safety & benefits as retail giants hit by sweeping strikes

North America/United States/05-04-2020 / Author and Source:

Whole Foods employees have called in sick from work en masse to demand better pay, benefits and a safer working environment amid the coronavirus outbreak. They join the Amazon and Instacart workers already on strike.

Whole Worker, a group representing employees of the Amazon-owned Whole Foods grocery chain, called for a mass “sick-out” on Tuesday demanding hazard pay for those working during the epidemic, personal protection equipment and in-store safety measures, free testing and treatment for employees, and guaranteed paid leave for all workers who are self-quarantining. They also want an immediate shutdown of any location where workers test positive for the virus and an expansion of healthcare benefits to part-time and seasonal employees.

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Demand for delivery services like those offered by Whole Foods has skyrocketed with three out of four Americans under some form of lockdown due to the coronavirus epidemic. While the grocery chain and its parent Amazon currently offer two weeks’ paid leave to anyone who has tested positive for coronavirus, that doesn’t help those who want to avoid getting sick – or the customers and fellow employees who will be infected during the incubation period before a sick worker takes note of their symptoms and gets tested. The company announced a $2 per hour hazard-pay bump earlier this month, which would remain in effect through the end of April, but has at the same time cited increased customer demand in its threats to cut benefits for employees unable to work 70 percent of peak hours.


A little reminder regarding the . These dollars were earned off the hard-working backs of these workers:

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Amazon employees are striking too, demanding safe working conditions and transparency. As many as 200 workers at a Staten Island fulfillment center walked off the job at noon on Monday, asking that the building be shuttered and sanitized – and that workers be fully compensated during that period. The lead organizer of that strike, management assistant Chris Smalls, complained management has not been forthcoming with workers about how many have tested positive for coronavirus – they will only acknowledge one case, while the real number is “at least 10,” he said on Monday.

According to a statement posted to Twitter later that day, Smalls was fired later that afternoon over the strike.


Make the Road NY 🦋@MaketheRoadNY

OUTRAGEOUS. Amazon just fired our member Chris Smalls, who helped organize today’s walkout to demand the company .

His statement: «Amazon would rather fire workers than face up to its total failure to do what it should to keep us…safe.»

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Make the Road NY 🦋@MaketheRoadNY

«We are walking out on @Amazon because they are lying to us, not caring about our health & safety.

There’s people sick in the building, they’re not caring about this pandemic, it’s affecting us the hardest here in NY.

They don’t care at all»

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The New York warehouse workers were joined by Amazon employees in Chicago, who also walked out on Monday demanding basic safety measures. “We don’t even have time to wash our hands!” one striking employee exclaimed. Queens warehouse employees staged a similar protest earlier this month when Amazon failed to shut down and disinfect a warehouse following an employee’s coronavirus diagnosis. At the same time, the company announced it plans to hire 100,000 new employees across the US to keep up with epidemic-fueled shopping. 

Eric Blanc@_ericblanc

Amazon workers walked out in Chicago yesterday.

Listen to them explain why.

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The upheaval at Amazon coincides with a strike by Instacart employees, who walked off the job on Monday demanding safety protections and an extra $5 per order in hazard pay. Gig Workers Collective, which organized that strike, said “at minimum thousands of workers” participated in the first day of work stoppage and called for customers to do their part by not placing orders on the platform.

The grocery-delivery service reportedly tried to head off the impending strike over the weekend by offering to provide workers with hand sanitizer and removing the “no tip” option for deliveries, as well as extending the period in which workers who test positive for coronavirus will be allowed to take paid leave. But like Amazon, it only offers two weeks of paid leave to employees who have tested positive for the virus. Workers want paid leave for those who can produce a doctors’ note attesting to a preexisting condition placing them at risk.

Gig workers like those at Instacart, which has 200,000 shoppers on its payroll, are independent contractors and thus lack basic employment protections guaranteed even to their comrades at Whole Foods. Shoppers describe a competitive, even dystopian environment where workers scramble to poach high-dollar orders and photograph other shoppers breaking protocol – bringing their kids with them on the job, for example – in order to get them fired. The company insists business is booming amid the epidemic, and announced plans last week to hire 300,000 more workers. “Over the last 72 hours, more groceries were sold on our platform than ever before,” a spokesperson told the LA Times on Monday.

The striking workers form the core of the “essential” workforce – grocery stores and delivery services are some of the few businesses allowed to stay open with most of the US under various forms of lockdown. If they walk off the job, the system grinds to a halt. Amazon may have fired one strike leader, but it can’t fire them all.

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Coronavirus: Republic of Ireland to close schools and colleges

Europe/Ireland /15-03-2020 / Author and Source:

Schools, colleges and other public facilities in the Republic of Ireland are to close in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) Leo Varadkar said the measures take effect from 18:00 on Thursday until 29 March.

He said that Northern Ireland and the UK would be briefed on developments.

Some 27 new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in Ireland on Thursday, according to the Department of Health.

The first death linked to coronavirus in Ireland – involving an elderly woman with underlying health conditions – was announced on Wednesday.

Meanwhile two more people have died in the UK after testing positive for coronavirus, bringing the total number of deaths to 10.

There are now 596 confirmed cases in the UK.

On Thursday another two more cases were diagnosed in Northern Ireland, bringing the total to 20.

On Thursday another two more cases were diagnosed in Northern Ireland, bringing the total to 20.

Republic of Ireland coronavirus stats

Making the announcement, Mr Varadkar added that indoor mass gatherings of more than 100 people and outdoor gatherings of more than 500 should be cancelled. He said people should work remotely if possible. Airports and ports will remain open.

Earlier on Thursday, stocks tumbled around the world after US President Donald Trump restricted travel to the US from mainland Europe in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The UK and Ireland were not included.

Mr Trump announced a ban on travellers from 26 European countries entering the United States for 30 days, starting on Friday.

Mr Varadkar said schools, colleges and childcare facilities will close from Friday and that the public and businesses needed to take a sensible approach.

The measures introduced in the Republic of Ireland will have a significant impact on Northern Ireland’s border region, according to the managing director of O’Neill’s sportswear firm.

It employs more than 750 staff at its factory in Strabane, County Tyrone, near the border with County Donegal in the Republic.

Kieran Kennedy said: «That will be very challenging for a lot of our staff. It will have a real impact on our manufacturing.»

The taoiseach said he realised the restrictions would be a «real shock».

«It is going to involve big changes in the way we live our lives and I know I’m asking people to make enormous sacrifices but we’re doing it for each other,» Mr Varadkar said.

«Our economy will suffer but it will bounce back.

«Lost time in school or college will be recovered and in time our lives will go back to normal.

«Ireland is a great nation, we’re great people, we’ve experienced hardship and struggle before, we’ve overcome many trials in the past.»

Mr Varadkar said shops should remain open and public transport will continue to operate.

‘Necessary and justified’

Later, Tánaiste (Irish deputy prime minister) Simon Coveney said the closures were «necessary and justified».

Two women walk past a sign providing guidance information about novel coronavirus (COVID-19)Image copyrightAFP

«We do need to respond with calm, with unity, with discipline and resolve,» he said.

«These are the right measures at the right time based on the best public health advice.»

‘Decisive and rapid’

Tony Holohan, Ireland’s chief medical officer, said the measures announced by the government were «early, decisive, rapid, co-ordinated and comprehensive» and offered the «greatest chance of mitigating the impact» of the outbreak.

«But it is not to say it is going to prevent an increase in cases. We expect to see that,» he said.

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Child undernutrition costing Kenya’s economy Ksh 373b: Study

Africa/Kenya/24-11-2019/Author(a): Ministry Of Health/Source:

Por: Ministry Of Health

The cost of child undernutrition to the Kenya’s economy is 373.9 billion shillings, which represents a loss of 6.9 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as at 2014, this is according to a study. 

The study dubbed “ Cost of Hunger in Africa (COHA) – Kenya  chapter  touches directly on three sectors of the economy namely Health, Education and Labor productivity and using 2014 as a reference period shows that Hunger is one of the root causes of malnutrition in Kenya as well as Africa with the negative impact on children under five years.

The report says that despite Kenya having made progress in reducing stunting in children from a high of 33 percent in 1994 to 26 percent in 2014, stunting rates are still high since it affects 1 in every four children under 5 years.

In a speech read by the Cabinet Secretary for Health Sicily Kariuki, on behalf of  President Uhuru Kenyatta, during the release of the Cost of Hunger in Africa (COHA) Kenya Study report on Thursday, the President said scale up and diverse financing for good nutrition for a healthy and productive nation should be a priority  to address the challenges associated with malnutrition.

He therefore said there is need to work together and put in place a comprehensive mechanism to address challenges of child undernutrition.

He also called for strengthening of existing public private partnership in the implementation of the policy recommendations from the study

The President noted that the challenges associated with malnutrition have led to the need for focus and emphasis on nutrition as part of the development effort in the World.

“Recognizing that Children are the greatest asset of our Nation, My Government is committed to ending child undernutrition,” he said.

Child undernutrition and in particular stunting in children has a negative impact on productivity at a much later stage in life.  Kenya has reduced stunting in children from a high of 33% in 1994 to 26% in 2014.

“As a Government, we are committed to reducing the stunting rates to 14.5% by 2030,” the President said and thanked all the development partners, who have walked with the government on the journey of ensuring that children have a brighter tomorrow.

Speaking during the release of the report, Treasury Cabinet Secretary Amb.  Ukur Yatani who was represented by Albert Mwenda, Director General, Budget, Fiscal and Economic Affairs said hunger is unacceptable and must be eradicated especially in Africa.

“In 2018, the number of people who were hungry globally stood at 821.6 Million, which implies that one person in nine people, suffers from hunger. Approximately 31 percent of the World hungry people come from Africa, “he noted..

The economic impact of child undernutrition on the health sector therefore is at  KSh. 18.6 Billion, representing  0.3 percent of our GDP as at 2014 he noted.

Based on the findings, the CS said that COHA Kenya National Implementation Team  will strengthen the implementation of the nutrition component within the community health strategy,  disseminate and implement comprehensive school health and nutrition programme and also integrate nutrition as targeting component in social protection programmes for the highly vulnerable populations.

The Council of  Governors (CoG) representative, Transzoia CEC Mary Nzomo said, the report will be useful for the national and county planning and budgeting process as well as offer important source of  data in the mid -term review of the county integrated development plans and their implementation and the big four agenda  of 100 percent food and nutrition security.

The COHA study estimates the social and economic impact of child undernutrition and provides evidence based analysis on cost of hunger geared towards  implementing strategies that eradicate child undernutrition in the country.

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Kenya: 31 student leaders of Pwani University expelled

Africa/Kenya/17-11-2019/Author (a) and Source:

31 student leaders at Pwani University have been expelled from the campus following the October 14th strike that led to the closure of the institution.

Addressing the media on Thursday, a section of the student leaders led by their president Fikirini Jacobs promised to appeal against the Board’s decision.

The campus is set to reopen on December 2, 2019, while the Health department section opened on Monday this week.

Fikirini said among the students’ grievances that led to the closure of the campus were lack of chairs in lecture halls, poor hygiene, referrals, inadequate payment for trips and poor services offered at the campus hospital.

“I have been presenting the students’ complaints to the dean of students Ronald Juma on several occasions before the strike. Students have to sit on the floor of lecture halls during classes and despite promises by the authorities to address the issue, no action was taken,” he said.

He said the lecture halls were cleaned once after two weeks posing a threat to their health while students seeking medication at the campus could not access service after 5.00 pm.

He said students paid Sh12,000 for trips every academic year but it has been unfortunate that those going on trips outside were paid between Sh100 and Sh300

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Kenya: Starehe girls closed over unknown disease

Africa/Kenya/16-10-2019/Author: Margaret Kalekye/Source:

Starehe Girls Centre has been closed indefinitely after an outbreak of what has now been established to be a common flu.

There was panic at the prestigious school after 52 students were quarantined when they started coughing, sneezing and having fever.

“The Starehe Girls Centre Community confirms that there has been an increasing number of cases presenting with an unknown cause of high-pitched cough, sneezing and low-grade fever amongst some of the students, 52 girls have since been isolated for observation within the school”  read a statement issued by the school on Monday.

Following a crisis meeting between education ministry officials and the school management Thursday morning, Forms 1, 2 and 3 students were sent home for four days to recuperate.

“In consultation with MoE/MoH officials and BOM the school management has taken the considered decision to allow the girls to go home. This is to accelerate their individual recuperation from what’s has been established to be a common flu said the schools’ communication manager Victoria Miguda.

She added” to dissipate the anxiety that has been building up amongst the girls. The students will resume studies on Monday 7th October 2019. The decision has also been taken into consideration of the form four candidates preparing for the national examination”.

Affected form four candidates will continue receiving treatment in the school.

Samples had been taken to Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) for analysis.


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