The Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) Secretary-General Wilson Sossion now wants the Ministry of Education to consider postponing national exams to next year over the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Speaking to members of the press at the Kenya Human Rights Commission offices in Lavington on Wednesday, the KNUT boss cited disruption of the education calendar as a reason for pushing for the changes.
The vocal unionist, who doubles up as a nominated Member of Parliament, called on the government to focus on flattening the Covid-19 infection curve first before shifting attention to the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams.
According to Sossion, the lives of learners and teachers should be prioritized as the contagious disease poses a great threat to the community if schools reopen without proper guidelines on preventive measures.
He noted that a majority of teachers are above the age of 50 years hence at a higher risk of contracting Covid-19 if exposed.
“We would rather have all our children staying at home, safe and alive and repeating a year rather than sending them to school to die. The world will not come to an end if we suspend certain matters,” said Sossion.
“The national exams, KCPE and KCSE, are not a ticket to heaven. They can be postponed to suitable time when the syllabus shall have been covered and when the curve shall have been flattened.”
The teacher by profession said when schools reopen, schools should begin the syllabus from where they left arguing that online learning (e-learning) has not been efficient as a majority of learners don’t have access to the required technology.
The few that have access to smartphones, computers and television sets, Sossion said, are unable to effectively interact with their teachers.
“Nobody in this country should gamble with the lives of learners and teachers. For now, open bars and test social distancing. KCPE and KCSE are not a ticket to heaven,” said Sossion.
“We’ve heard of people talking about Form 4 and Class 8 reopening. These are human beings; the world will not come to an end. Children can repeat a class, better save lives first. Even if the exams are pushed to November 2021, if we can evade death, let’s do so.”
He called on school heads not to withhold salaries of teachers because of the crisis the world is going through.
“Salaries of teachers must be protected. No one, whether government or private entities, should use Covid-19 to hold the salaries of teachers, ” he added.
Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha had in April indicated that it’s too early to postpone exams.
However, appearing before the National Assembly’s Education Committee this month, Magoha said the schools will reopen when the Covid-19 is under control.
So as to complete the syllabus within the set time limit, Magoha said, learning periods will be increased.