Kenya National Union of Teachers Secretary-General Wilson Sossion delivers his speech during a workshop of teachers with disability at Tom Mboya Labour College, Kisumu, on August 25, 2017. Sossion said schools must close to allow students and teachers to participate in the elections. PHOTO | TONNY OMONDI | NATION MEDIA GROUP
A major decision on whether or not to close schools during the week of the fresh presidential election will be made during an education stakeholders meeting Monday.
The meeting that will bring together officials from the Kenya National Examinations Council, Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development, Education ministry, and head teachers of secondary and primary schools will look at a number of options.
Among the options is to close all schools during the October 17 poll or only close day schools and allow boarding institutions to continue with their activities.
Schools re-opened for third term on August 28 and will close by October 29 in order to allow for the start of national examinations.
If students take the period as half term, they will only be in schools for a week before officially closing.
This term is only nine weeks and all activities such as prayer and visiting days, half-term breaks, sports, prize-giving ceremonies and annual general meetings are not allowed in order to cut contact between candidates and outsiders.
The new measures were introduced to curb examination cheating.
The more than 23,000 primary schools are used as polling stations while some teachers training colleges and secondary schools are used as tallying centres.
Teachers will also be recruited as presiding officers and deputies during the polls and are, therefore, expected to be away from schools for two or three days.
Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association chairman Kahi Indimuli said: “We are meeting other education stakeholders to deliberate on the issue.”
Kenya Private Schools Association Chief Executive Officer Peter Ndoro said the nature of Kenyan politics cannot allow students to be in schools.
“We cannot guarantee the students’ safety in schools. We will have to close and come back to continue with learning,” he said.
However, he asked politicians to avoid activities that may jeopardise learning in schools.
Kenya National Union of Teachers Secretary-General Wilson Sossion said schools must close to allow students and teachers to participate in the elections.
“Students and teachers are voters and therefore entitled to participate in the exercise,” Mr Sossion said.
The Teachers Service Commission has also instructed teachers who will be selected by the electoral commission to help conduct the poll to obtain written permission.
The commission’s CEO Nancy Macharia, in a circular dated September 7 and addressed to school heads and directors of education, said the written permission will be issued by its county directors.
“Teachers should be non-partisan and are further required to shun any acts that could lead to cases of real or perceived conflict of interest in performance of their work,” she said while directing institutional administrators to ensure learning is not disrupted.
“Accordingly, teachers should be adequately supervised during the electioneering period. In particular, they will be required to remain at their work station throughout,” she said in the circular.
The official also directed school heads to ensure safety of learners under their care and school property in the event the institutions are used as polling or tallying centres.
Practicals for some of the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examination subjects will start as early as October 23.
According to the timetables already sent out to schools, Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examination will begin on October 31 and end on November 2 while KCSE theory papers will start on November 6 and end on November 29.
There are 312,000 teachers across the country with 5,916 examiners having been identified for KCPE and 21,828 examiners for KCSE.
More than 23,000 primary schools will be used as polling stations out of the total 40,800 polling centres.
Knec is also working around the clock to ensure the KCPE results are released on time.[“Source-nation”]