Kenya’s education sector was hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic that paralysed learning in all levels, from primary school to universities in 2020.
After the first case was reported in the country, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced the closing of all learning institutions in the country on March 15 in an effort to curb the spread of the virus.
An Education Taskforce Committee on Covid-19 was also appointed by Education Cabinet Secretary Prof George Magoha to advise on reopening of schools and reorganisation of academic calendar.
Shift in learning method
What followed was a shift to online learning, which saw most of the high end private and international schools learners continue with their studies while thousands of learners especially in public schools went without learning for nine months. Some schools were sending assignments on emails and WhatsApp platforms.
The pandemic exposed the gap in the education system despite the government investing over Ksh32.2 billion ($292.7 million) in digital literacy programme in public schools since 2013.
So far, more than 1,168,798 electronic devices have been distributed to all 22,000 public primary schools.
Public school teachers complained of insufficient equipment to enable them to roll out digital classrooms.
In an effort to keep public school learners engaged, the government through the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development rolled out broadcast lessons which learners have been following through radio and TV. in a partnership with the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation.
However, the programme was faulted by stakeholders, especially the teachers Unions, the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) and the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet), for being shallow and ineffective.
An effort by the government to roll out community-based programmes across the country also failed after a parent moved to court to stop the rollout.
The programme had been designed by the education committee on Covid-19 pandemic to engage learners in their estates and villages.
The pandemic also caused national examinations to be postponed after teachers and stakeholders complained that candidates are not prepared.
In September 2020, Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha released a crash 2020 academic calendar to enable schools to recover the “lost year”.
This lead to reopening of schools for Standard 8, Grade Four and Form Four in October 12.
The other learners opened in January.
The crash calendar saw Form Four students and Standard Eight pupils sit their national examinations in April.
Ministry of Education also contracted the 2021 school calendar to run from July to early 2022, with a view to having the school calendar revert to its traditional January to December schedule in January 2023.
Among the interventions made before reopening of schools was the development of health and safety protocol. Basic Education Principal Secretary Dr Julius Jwan said they also developed the Covid-19 prevention, control, and management training modules for education officials, teachers, learners, non-teaching staff, boards of management, parents, and the entire school communities.