The one thing that’s not clear about schools reopening in January 2021

It was clear that schools could not reopen in September 2020. That’s because the requirement that a class could only have a maximum of 15 students at a time was not attainable. Given that Magoha and his team expected that classes will be conducted in two shifts, that meant they had assumed that a typical class had a maximum of 30 students. We all know that there are classes in some schools that hold up to 100 students, especially for lower primary in rural areas.

That reality finally dawned on Magoha which has resulted on him after consultation with stakeholders to declare the 2020 academic year lost. What that means is that when schools reopen in January 2021, every pupil shall remain in the class they were in in 2020. National exams, KCPE and KCSE, for 2020, shall therefore be done at the end of 2021 – and so forth and so forth.

This declaration however leaves one big question that needs answering. What happens to the completed first term of 2020? When schools were finally closed towards the end of March, many schools including the school my kid attends were ready to deliver their first term exams. That is, the first term syllabus was already completed. Has that been scrapped such that my kid will have to restart his class 1 in January 2021?

It’s not just about the lost time and the need to repeat the already covered content that’s at stake here. It is school fees too. Many middle class parents have their children in private school that charge between Kshs 20,000 to Kshs 100,000 per term per kid. This is an amount of money that already paid for in first term of 2020 and had written off their budget. Restarting the 2020 academic calendar in 2021 means the fees paid for 2020 first term is gone – dusted – unless Magoha clarifies that the January 2021 reopening will start where 2020 ended.

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That’s the hard question that has not been clarified. How hard is it to just continue with the 2020 academic calendar from January 2021? It is not impossible. Actually, if we strike away the school holidays in 2021 and also in 2022, by 2023 we shall have regained the lost second and third terms of 2020.

Then again, coronavirus will still be here by January 2021. That I prophesy.

Odipo Riaga
Managing Editor at KachTech Media
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