CS Magoha hints at colleges reopening earlier than primary and high schools

Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) institutions and universities stand a higher chance of reopening in shifts as opposed to primary and secondary schools.

This is according to Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha, who cited infrastructural challenges and congestion as a major hurdle in the reopening of primary and secondary schools.

Speaking in Kisumu on Friday, the CS said TVET colleges and universities have the capacity to achieve social distancing in efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19 among learners.

“The TVET institutions, as we have looked at them, have a much better chance in terms of getting social distancing. Like universities, they offer various courses and can adjust their programmes and open in shifts much more easily than the primary and secondary schools,” Prof Magoha said when he met TVET principals from the Western region.

He added that mask production was no longer a headache as there was assurance from TVET Principal Secretary Julius Juan that the institutions can make their own.

“The unfortunate thing is Covid-19 is still increasing… But government is going to work as if we are going to open on September 1,” Prof Magoha said.

The CS said reopening learning institutions will largely be dictated by the prevailing Covid-19 status, and that it would be impossible to continue with the plan if cases will still be high. He added that they will strongly rely on the advice of the Health ministry on reopening of the institutions.

“As a physician, I will tell you according to my training, we should open after we have reached the peak and stabilised and started coming down for 14 days continuously,” he said. There is no country in the world that has dared to reopen when the Covid-19 infections were still rising.”

There have been concerns from parents and other sector players on plans to reopen learning institutions in September, citing lack of preparedness.

On Wednesday, Prof Magoha said the Health ministry had advised that each classroom have a maximum of 20 learners and suggested erecting tents to accommodate the learners in view of infrastructural challenges in most schools.

The Education CS said tertiary learning institutions will only be reopened after being certified by government-approved physicians.

“The challenge would be in boarding facilities in terms of bed capacity,” he said.

Dr Juan said TVET institutions would play a crucial role in the fight against Covid-19 if reopened, even as many continue to produce critical items in the fight.

“Eldoret Polytechnic donated about 240 medical beds to Uasin Gishu County and Kisumu Polytechnic is producing solar-powered handwashing machines,” he stated.

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