Postpone national exams to next year
Wednesday, May 20th, 2020
Efforts by the government to ensure learning continues during the long school break occasioned by the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic are commendable.
But it now evident that the idea of online, radio and TV broadcasts learning platforms established by the government is not working.
In many rural areas, families lack access to radio, TV and the internet. That means that for the two months that schools have been closed, children in rural areas and urban slums have not been learning.
A report released on Monday by Usawa, a non-governmental organisation, shows that only 22 out of 100 children have access to learning through the Internet.
According to the study, private school learners are twice as likely to access digital lessons compared to those in public schools.
The study also shows that less than 10 per cent of learners in public schools have access to digital learning materials.
It further shows that two out of 10 parents are not even aware that their children should be learning remotely from home.
As Usawa recommends, the government should acknowledge the fact that there is no systematic remote learning going on across the country.
The survey raises questions on whether integration of ICT tools is promoting learning or widening inequalities in access to quality education.
Teachers in rural areas are projecting poor performance in national examinations by learners in public institutions in remote areas unless the tests are postponed or rescheduled.
The government must ensure the coronavirus pandemic does not widen academic divide between the rich and the poor.
Going forward, the Ministry of Education and other stakeholders need to re-strategise on the e-learning, radio and TV broadcasts.
What is available is only benefitting the ‘haves’ while the ‘have nots’ are disadvantaged.
But more importantly, there is need for a more realistic approach to the learning crisis.
The best option would be to extend the school calendar, including national examinations, to 2021.
The ministry and other stakeholders— led by the National Covid-19 Education Response Committee— should consider extending the school term and postponing the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education and the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examinations to next year.