Floods threaten to delay reopening of schools

Thousands of learners may not reopen schools next week as floods continue to wreak havoc across Kenya. Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu has issued a directive to regional education authorities, asking them to assess the impact of ongoing floods. This evaluation, outlined in a memorandum to regional directors of education, will influence decisions regarding the scheduled reopening of schools next week.

“The Ministry is in the process of collecting data/information to establish the readiness of all Basic Education Institutions for the second term of 2024…The data on the effects of the rains and flooding will be crucial for planning and for sharing with the Education in Emergencies cluster working group,” read part of the memo.

Depending on the assessment, there may be a potential postponement of the reopening date to accommodate necessary repairs. Regional directors are tasked with overseeing the data collection process and reporting their findings by Friday, April 26.

This directive aligns with forecasts from the Kenya Meteorological Department, which predict continued heavy rainfall across multiple regions until April 29, with associated risks of flooding and landslides.

Notable areas prone to these effects include various regions listed in the forecast, where thousands have already been displaced, and fatalities reported. Additionally, major roads such as Mombasa Road and Thika Road have faced partial closures due to the adverse weather conditions.

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Over 40,000 displaced by floods

Currently, over 40,000 people have been displaced, and at least 32 people lost their lives in the floods caused by the ongoing heavy rains, while Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) disclosed that several roads, including major highways like Mombasa Road and Thika Road, were partially closed on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Education Principal Secretary Dr. Belio Kipsang announced the discontinuation of the national categorization of schools. This decision, disclosed during the Inaugural Annual Symposium on Competency-Based Assessment, is part of the government’s efforts to implement the new curriculum.

The classification of senior schools will now depend on the subjects offered, with categories including Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Centers, Humanities and Arts Schools, and Creative Arts and Sports Schools.

“We will soon convene a stakeholders engagement on the pathways and pathway placement in Senior School. Secondary schools will soon be categorised according to the pathways they will offer,” Dr. Kipsang said during the symposium.

The allocation of categories will be based on each school’s resources and infrastructure capacity, with national schools expected to offer a wider range of subjects due to their ample resources compared to sub-county schools.

Students will undergo a three-year program in senior school before proceeding to university or college based on their academic achievements and interests, in alignment with the new curriculum objectives.

Under the phased-out 8-4-4 system, schools were categorized as national, extra-county, county, or sub-county. However, the new approach will rename secondary schools as senior schools, where students from Junior Secondary Schools (JSS) will enroll.

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