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Uganda schools reopen after almost two years of Covid closure

Africa/Uganda/14-01-2022/Author and Source:

Children in Uganda have expressed their joy at finally returning to school nearly two years after they were closed because of Covid.

“I am really excited because it’s been a long time without seeing our teachers. And we have missed out a lot,” Joel Tumusiime told the BBC.

“I am glad to be back at school,” echoed another, Mercy Angel Kebirungi.

But after one of the world’s longest school closures, authorities warned at least 30% of students may never return.

Some have started work, while others have become pregnant or married early, the country’s national planning authority said.

About 15 million students have been affected by the closure, the government says.

“We can’t let this happen again. We must keep schools open for every child, everywhere,” the UN children’s agency, Unicef, warned on Twitter.

Some classes reopened in October 2020 temporarily but closed again in May and June of the following year.

While schools were closed, there have been some lessons via the radio, TV and newspapers while some schools have provided printed materials, but these have not reached everyone.

Wealthier Ugandans have also been able to access online classes and home tutors.

But many children have not been to school for about 22 months.

One pupil explained how she continued learning during the long hiatus.

“My parents never had the time to study with me. When schools were closed, I was able to read, but on my own. Sometimes I would meet with friends to study,” said Christine Teburwa. Like Joel and Mercy, she is in Primary Five, meaning they are between nine and 11 years old.

Pupils who have not had any education since March 2020 will resume classes a year above where they were before the pandemic.

However, some parents in the capital, Kampala, questioned this.

“My children have not been learning at all. I wish they could be allowed to continue from where they stopped,” Rachael Nalumansi said.

“Before the first lockdown, our children had only been in school for two weeks. So it is a bit concerning that they are now promoting them to the next class,” Vanetta Bangi said.

For those students who have not accessed any form of studying during the pandemic, the curriculum will be abridged to focus on core areas and give them a chance to catch up.

Lessons were already underway at some schools I visited on Monday morning while at others, students were still cleaning classrooms and re-organising their desks. Others were still registering with the school administration.

Boarding school students in Kampala and the nearby districts will start throughout the week, to avoid congestion on public transport.

Despite authorities instructing that health and safety measures like masks and social distancing should be in place, not all institutions have the space or facilities to ensure that these steps are properly followed. Some have huge numbers of students and very few classrooms.

But it is not only learners who will struggle, but many parents’ incomes were also hit by the pandemic, and some will find it difficult to raise money for tuition fees and other school requirements.

The phased reopening of schools, which started in November with universities and higher education institutions, was pegged to the vaccination of over 550,000 teachers, their support staff, and students aged 18 and above.

Uganda, which has had some of the world’s strictest lockdowns, is now moving to fully reopen the economy despite being at the start of its third wave of the pandemic driven by the Omicron variant.

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Kenya: Parents decry high cost of living as schools’ re-open

Africa/Kenya/07-01-2022/Author: Source:

The business community and parents in Narok town have decried a high cost of living as children re-open schools for the third term.

Many parents were forced to do minimum shopping for their children as they lamented of hiked prices of essential commodities like sanitary goods and stationery.

Joyce Naeni, a mother of four said despite her heavy savings, she could not afford all the commodities she needed for her children who are in classes eight, seven, grade five and grade three who school at Blessed Narok academy in Narok town.

“I used to spend Ksh 5, 000 to buy essential goods for my children, however, the prices of these commodities have increased and I am forced to do the same shopping with Ksh 10, 000,” she said.

Johnston Sadera, who owns a uniform shop in Narok Tsaid he had calculated of making profits during this season that schools are opening but was wrong as only a few customers knocked at his doorsteps.

Sadera said he is opting for other options like farming to make money as he could not rely on his uniform shop to earn a living.

“This year is so different from other years. Before, I used to make a lot of money in the month of January. I will be forced to venture into different activities where I can earn a living,” said the businessman.

Rose Moraa, a mother of three secondary school children asked the Ministry of Education to allow all children in school, even those who had not cleared school fees saying it is hard for her to afford the school fees of her three children at once.

Ms Moraa who hawks tea and snacks in Narok town called on well-wishers to help support those bright but poor children to complete their education.

A spot check on the transport sector indicated that the Matatus had hiked fares to various towns making the parents dig deeper into their pockets to have the children go back to school.

At the Narok Line bus stop that operates between Narok and Nairobi, the fare had been increased from Ksh 400 to Ksh 600 owing to the many passengers who had queued to travel.

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Kenya: Govt says Kshs 8B PRIEDE project has been successful

Africa/Kenya/17-12-2021/Author: CLAIRE WANJA/Source:

The targets of the Kenya Primary Education Development (PRIEDE) project funded by the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) to the tune of Kshs 8 billion in line with the Competence Based Curriculum (CBC) has borne fruits.

Deputy Director for Education, Sebestian Owanga said the project, which has run for the past five years, involved training teachers on effective Early Grade Mathematics (EGM) teaching methodologies, training Headteachers  and Board of Management (BOM) chairpersons for prudent financial management as well as provision of EGM textbooks to 6 million grade one and two pupils.

Mr. Owanga, who spoke while on the assessment as well as closing mission of the project in Kakamega County through class observation sessions, he said the mathematics teachers can now ensure that they actively engage, infuse ethics and empower the learners during the lessons.

He said that the project has ensured adequate supply of text books and the learner to book ratio is one to one.

The DPCD stated that the newly adopted teaching methodologies employ the Competence Based Assessment (CBA) which is learner-friendly where they described as either Meeting Expectation (M.E), Approaching Expectation (A.E) or Below Expectation (B.E).

“The CBA tool has discarded the use of derogatory words such as poor or weak that would lower the self-esteem of pupils with low competence,” he observed.

A lesson goes on for grade 2 pupils at St. Martin mixed primary for the deaf in Mumias West sub county in Kakamega County.

He added the teachers have shifted from the pedagogy that emphasizes quantity to that of quality where learners are now engaged during the lesson, taught morals and at the end of the lesson they all empowered basing on their varied abilities.

He called on the head teachers to ensure that all the pupils are registered in the National Educational Management Information System (NEMIS) as capitation disbursement will be based on this information.

The Director Teacher Education (DTE) Margaret Mwandale said they are encouraging collaborative teaching and learning where two teachers handle a lesson together and the learners are paired up.

Mwandale stated that at first, they trained selected teachers in counties but through the School Based Teacher Support (SBTS) initiative, the trained ones have taught the others.

The DTE said their mission was to look at school enrollment, staffing, performance trend,financial management and community involvement in school activities.

She stated that parents and the community are key stakeholders in the implementation of CBC therefore they should part and parcel of the school management.

The Director observed that the introduction of the Teacher Performance Appraisal and Development (TPAD) tool has boosted teacher performance by reducing incidents of absenteeism.

She said as PRIEDE project closes, the next target is the teacher training colleges where they intend to ensure that the trainees are taught CBC-inclined pedagogical skills.

The other members of the delegation were Elizabeth Owiti from Elimu Coalition (EC) and Kananu Murungi from the directorate of Special Needs Education (SNE).

Joseph Muhombe, the Headteacher of St. Martin mixed boarding primary school for the deaf in Mumias West SubCounty, lauded the MOE, GPE and other development partners for the efforts of uplifting education standards in the country.

Mr. Muhombe, however, disclosed that only grade one and two classes have adequate mathematics text books but the other learning areas including English, environment and hygiene there is a shortage of textbooks.

The head teacher stated that grade three, four and five as well as standard six, seven and eight (last 8-4-4 system lot) have limited text books in all learning areas.

He said the school has an enrollment of 370 against 22 teachers, the he said is inappropriate as a class is supposed to hold 10 learners for a lesson.

The school head complained that they are forced to admit Pre-Primary 1 pupils (age 4) because the parents do not know the sign language to teach the children.

“The little children are admitted into boarding because the parents or guardians do not know the Kenya Sign Language (KSL) and failure to introduce the child to it at an appropriate age would make them be completely unable to learn it,” he explained adding thatin some instances the parents release the children for fear of stigmatization by the community.

The team also visited Kakamega primary in Kakamega Central Sub County and Eshitare primary inButere, Eregi mixed in Ikolomani (regular schools) as well as St. Emillian Eregi primary for the deaf.

All in all, the CBC programme will go a long way in molding all round learners by instilling the ethical values and equipping them with the desired competencies.

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Kenya: Five students charged with attempted arson, remanded at children’s home

Africa/Kenya/19-11-2021/Author: Source:

Five students from Itierio Girls High School in Kisii County were today arraigned before a Kisii law court for allegedly attempting to set ablaze a school dormitory.

The students who were charged with attempted arson contrary to Section 333 (a) of the Penal Code, pleaded not guilty.

The accused through their lawyer, requested the Court to be released on bond, saying they were innocent until proven guilty and assured the Court that the parents shall avail them when needed.

Senior Resident Magistrate, Paul Mutai, ruled that the minors be remanded at Manga Children’s Remand Home in Nyamira, pending the processing of a surety Bond of Ksh 50,000 or Cash Bail worth Ksh 20,000 each.

The case will be mentioned on the 29th of November.

The students were arrested on the 11th of November for alleged involvement in an attempt to set fire to a building named Elgon Dormitory, a property of Itierio Girls High School, at around 4.00 am on the 9th of November.

Recently, a series of reports involving school fires in various parts of the country have been witnessed and this has led to the arrest of some students.

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Kenya: It’s time to introduce corporal punishment in schools, KUPPET says

Africa/Kenya/12-11-2021/Author: Source:

The recent wave of arson attacks in schools has seen a good number of secondary schools torched, leaving authorities with no option but close some of the affected institutions.

Amid questions over the motives behind the fires, education stakeholders are proposing drastic measures to curb this trend. The Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) wants the Ministry of Education to allow the use of physical punishment so as to ensure more immediate compliant behavior in children.

“Our proposal to the ministry and the teachers service commission is let us bite the bullet and introduce corporal punishment,” KUPPET Busia Branch Secretary-General Morphat Okisai

Besides corporal punishment, Okasai says learners found guilty of indiscipline should be suspended and expelled from school in order to serve as an example to the rest.

“As it stands now, we have allowed the rights of children to override the rights of everybody else,” a tough-talking Okisai charged.

He says learning institutions must be protected from being razed down at all costs to prevent education in the country from being jeopardized by a few “bad elements” in society.

And that’s not all. Okasai says the ministry should consider employing full-time counselors to address student unrest and the torching of schools. He says the counselors who will be enlisted for school programs should be put into the Teachers Service Commission payroll.

He wants the ministry to find a long-lasting solution, reiterating that granting mid-term breaks to students is not a remedy to school unrest.

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Kenya: Kakamega High School students safe after fire incident


A dormitory at Kakamega High School was early Saturday morning razed down.

According to the school principal Gerald Orina, the fire is believed to have started at 5.30 am when students were in for their morning preps.

Orina said that the fire destroyed property for over about 140 students.

The cause of the fire is yet to be established, with authorities saying no casualties have been reported.

Confirming the incident, Deputy OCPD Kakamega Central Daniel Mutisya said watchmen heard a loud bang from one corner of the dormitory followed by billowing smoke.
They then alerted school management.
In the early morning incident, no student was injured.
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The fire comes after a spate of fires was witnessed in other schools which include Buruburu Girls High School, Chavakali High School, ABC Katelembo Mixed SecondarySigalame High School, Moi High School Kabarak and Kahuhia Girls Secondary School

In Buruburu Girls, students received treatment for smoke inhalation at the Metropolitan Hospital in Nairobi after a fire broke out in one of the dorms at around 5 pm on Sunday while a dorm in Chavakali Boys’ Secondary School also went ablaze on the same day at around 6 pm.

On November 1st, a fire also razed a boys’ dormitory at ABC Katelembo Mixed Secondary in Katheka Kai of Machakos County at 5 am Monday morning, two days later on Tuesday another fire broke out at Kahuhia Girls Secondary School.

The current trend of fires breaking out in schools becoming a regular occurrence provoked a response from the government which is vowing stern punishment against students found to have started fires in schools.

At the Coast, Regional Commissioner John Elungata announced that authorities will move into all schools that have reported school fires and carry out investigations. And he cautioned that this will not be a public relations exercise as those involved in arson attacks will be apprehended.

“We have resolved that the police will follow these culprits – because it is not difficult to get them as they are among fellow students, – arrest and prosecute them because destroying school property is akin to destroying their own homes,” he charged.

The regional boss said students above 18 years would be jailed like any other criminals while minors would be committed to borstal institutions as they continue with their education.

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Kenya National Library Service embraces technology amidst Covid-19

Africa/Kenya/27-08-2021/Author and Source:

Kenya National Library Service (KNLS) has created programmes aimed at ensuring the youths continue with their research and lessons during the pandemic period.

Eldoret branch Principal Librarian Ruth Jemo said the library has introduced computer literacy training programmes to equip youths with the necessary technological skills needed during the pandemic period.

“At the moment we have 16 trainees who started their training at the beginning of the month and we expect more as we continue,” she said.

Jemo indicated that the library has beefed up its cyber, WIFI, and LAN capabilities to ensure young people interested in research and learning enjoy uninterrupted services at the library.

She further said a partnership with the Uasin Gishu County government has enabled the library to set up a well-equipped cyber section to allow students to participate in online classes free of charge.

Entrance of Kenya National Library in Eldoret.

Data by The World Economic Forum stipulate that over 1.2 billion children from 186 countries were forced out of school by the coronavirus pandemic compelling schools to adopt online solutions to bridge the gap.

Apart from the cyber café, Jemo indicated that the library has made arrangements to accommodate more students by converting the children section into a makeshift study area for adults.

“We also have personal booths that can be used by both students and teachers engaged in online learning. These booths have internet facilities to ensure smooth services,” she said.

“Part of KNLS’ strategic plan is to enhance the availability of resources through the utilization of modern technologies,” she said, adding that the Covid-19 pandemic has furnished them with an opportunity of accommodating technology in their day-to-day services.

The library has also rolled out business skills programmes designed to educate youths on matters of online business and communication skills.

“We have book talks on topical issues where we invite speakers to cover issues affecting the youths in this country,” she said.

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