Mid-term break during polls week right move
The Ministry of Education has done well to release a circular indicating that schools will close for a mid-term break from August 6 to 14 to pave way for this year’s elections.
Before the information became public, there was concern that if no changes were made to the school calendar, then both primary and secondary school learners would lose time since many public schools are used as polling stations.
There were also concerns about safety and travel arrangements given that Kenyan elections are prone to politically-instigated violence and other forms of chaos, including protests.
Planners of the education cycle know too well that the date for Kenya’s General Election is a constitutional provision that cannot be tampered with except under special circumstances, hence the need to re-organize the school calendar every election year.
Although the circular changing the dates could have been shared with the school, it was important for the information to be made public to ease anxiety for parents and the general public.
It was only reasonable that the entire week on which voting day falls coincides with the mid-term break for security reasons and also for the electoral commission to have the time and space to use facilities in schools designated as polling centres.
It is also commendable that most universities have already adjusted their academic programmes by factoring in the August election and will, therefore, not be affected by the events leading to, during and after voting especially given that university students can organise political protests either on their own or through instigation by political players. The decision to ensure they will be on holiday during that time is as it should be.
Kenya’s elections are perennially characterised by violence instigated from many quarters. The last thing one expects is to have learners at any level in session when such unfortunate incidents happen.
Learners should be in an environment in which they feel safe and where their parents and guardians can watch over them.
It goes without saying that school-going children ought to be protected from electoral violence at all times, hence the wisdom in the decision that the Education Ministry planners have taken. All that was needed was to make the information available for planning purposes.
In future, learning in schools should take a two-week break to allow the elections to take place and for all votes - especially in the highly competitive presidential election - to be counted and tallied.