In Kenya schools closed in March and will not reopen until January 2021. The government has decided that everyone will retake a year, although it is not clear what will happen with the youngest class and whether they will delay the start of their schooling, or will create a bulge year.
It is very difficult for the government of a country with such a rural, poor population to reach everyone with education other than through schools. Dorcas and Julia, our schools managers, have been trying to contact the teachers who manage the Mwezi light donations, to find out what is happening to their pupils. Their feedback makes for depressing reading. – this is Julia’s feedback
“One of the ways that the government ensured that learning took place was through the e-learning platform. So when l asked the teachers if their students were participating in these, they said that most of the students come from poor families and because of this their parents are not in a position to afford online teaching . Also most families don’t have electricity so it is just impossible for the students to carry on with their studies.
“Also the teachers said that most of the parents in the remote areas were illiterate and did not seem to understand the benefit of e-learning to the lives of their children. So in their areas students were engaging in hawking and chaos at home.
“One teacher told me that he was going an extra mile by downloading the education materials and sharing them with the learners, although very few parents were cooperating. So generally in the remote areas of our country such as Kwale and Kilifi practically no learning is taking place, and if there is learning going on then it is from very few students and especially the ones with the Mwezi lights and those ones whose parents are able to afford e-learning.”
We are therefore planning to enable our schools managers, who have been on full pay throughout the pandemic, to visit every single school in a Covid-safe manner, as soon as possible in January. They will replace any Mwezi lights which are not functioning, and will assess how many extra lights are required to enable the top year – class 8 – to catch up with their studies. Online learning is a distant dream for these students, but with a light and books to enable them to study at night, as well as renewed input from teachers and Mwezi schools managers, emphasising the importance of education, we can give the pupils hope that they can catch up with their wealthier peers.