COVID-19: Floods leave Kenyan learners’ fates uncertain

Several schools in Nyando, Kisumu County, might not reopen next week due to extensive damages to their classrooms and other learning facilities caused by floods.

They include Ombaka Secondary School, Kandaria Primary and Secondary Schools, Ogenya Primary School, Oseth Primary School, and Nyamrundu Primary School, which have been totally submerged in water.

At the beginning of the year, many classrooms and toilets collapsed under the weight of the floods, posing a serious public health concern.

The circumstances forced pupils and students from different schools to merge for classes that resumed learning in October. Learners in Grade Four, Class Eight, and Form Four were moved to other safer schools not affected by floods.

The fate of thousands of learners in the affected schools is uncertain as learning is expected to resume on Monday.

Kisumu County Director of Education Isaac Atebe said the number of learners who had resumed classes in October was manageable.

Mr. Zablon Awange, the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers Kisumu County executive secretary, had called on the national government to fast track the rebuilding of the affected schools to avoid a learning crisis upon reopening.

Many families displaced

“Despite the CS leading a high profile delegation to visit the affected schools in Nyando, the progress towards rebuilding has been so slow,” Mr. Awange noted.

He added: “The full reopening of schools next week will pose even more risk with the Covid-19 situation in the country having greatly affected the education sector, with reported deaths of school administrators and many teachers.”

Many families displaced by the raging floods in November 2019 spent their second Christmas in camps.

At Ombaka Primary School camp, 53-year-old Ambrose Anyanga has had to share the tiny classrooms with four other families in total disregard of social distancing requirements.

“Our children have also forgotten the comfort of living in their home and are forced to share the makeshift tents erected on the field,” said the father of 10. “My house got destroyed and my land is still surrounded by lake waters.”

The situation is the same for 280 other families at Kamuga village in Kakola location.

As schools plan to reopen next week, the families have been given the notice to vacate.

“We are appealing to villagers who are not affected to host their friends and families to give space to children when they resume school,” said Kakola village administrator Emmanuel Awich.

“The primary section is currently overstretched and it could paralyze learning when school reopens for the second term,” he said.

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