Court orders Magoha, TSC meet over reopening plans
Thursday, October 8th, 2020
The High Court yesterday ordered Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha to convene a meeting with the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) and other stakeholders on the issue of reopening schools.
This follows a case in which a parent, Joseph Aura, moved to court last month on claims the indefinite closure of schools in March was affecting children, yet the government had failed to put in place measures to address the issue.
In his ruling, Justice James Makau ordered the first meeting be held at the Ministry of Education, Jogoo House, where parties are expected to reach a settlement on conditions set for reopening schools.
“The Education CS or his representatives to invite parties in this petition and stakeholders within the shortest time possible, constitute or reach settlement on the issue of schools reopening, conditions and when and report to this court on or by October 14 on the settlement,” ordered Makau.
The orders come after Prof Magoha on Tuesday instructed Grade Four, Standard Eight and Form Four learners to report for their second on October 12.
Aura, a father of three, argued in his petition that in-person learning is the best when it comes to the education of children rather than virtual or any other method.
“The oppressive psychological and mental torture inflicted on the school going children because of the open-ended closure of schools effected by the ministry from March till now has gravely injured them,” reads the court documents.
Through lawyer Harrison Kinyanjui, Aura says many countries, which had high numbers of Covid-19 cases have since reopened schools and Kenya should also follow suit.
The parent also faulted Magoha for converting schools and learning institutions to be Covid-19 quarantine facilities.
Separately, two human rights activists also filed a petition in a Homa Bay court challenging reopening of schools.
Evance Gor and Michael Kojo filed the petition before Homa Bay Senior Principal Magistrate Thomas Obutu seeking to stop Magoha from reopening schools.
They want the court to compel Magoha to rescind the decision and instead reopen schools in January next year.
In their petition, the activists have named Magoha, Ministry of Education, TSC, Health CS Mutahi Kagwe, Ministry of Health and the Attorney General as the first, second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth respondents, respectively.
They argued that reopening schools this year will lead to illegal change of the academic calendar.
“Change of the academic calendar should be anchored in the law. However, this has not been done hence it is illegal to change the academic calendar without legal backing,” the petition.