Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha has accused the World Health Organization (WHO) of doublespeak regarding reopening of schools amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking in Kitale, Trans-Nzoia County, on Monday while assessing the level of preparedness of a local technical institution to reopen, the CS dismissed calls for reopening of schools saying it’s not safe to do so at the moment.
The tough-talking Magoha rubbished calls by WHO and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for reopening of learning institutions in Africa saying the lives of learners are more important.
“Do you think it is our president and his government who have the interests of our children at heart or is it WHO and UNICEF? The same WHO is double-speaking, I am Magoha son of Magoha and you can take it to the bank, ” said Magoha.
“They have given us protocols which we must do (sic) but they think because we are Africans it’s okay we can ignore. Is someone trying to use us as guinea pigs or what? I think as far as am concerned as government we love our children.”
Prof. George Magoha, CS, Education: Do you think it is our president and his government who have the interests of our children at heart or is it WHO and UNICEF? The same WHO is double-speaking, I am Magoha son of Magoha and you can take it to the bank… pic.twitter.com/rIFRTrE65Q
— Citizen TV Kenya (@citizentvkenya) August 24, 2020
WHO and UNICEF had last week said unprecedented and prolonged closure of the learning institutions aimed at keeping students safe from COVID-19 are harming them in other ways.
The impact of the extended closure of schools, according to the agencies, has led to among others poor nutrition, stress, increased exposure to violence and exploitation, childhood pregnancies, and overall challenges in mental development of children due to reduced interaction related to school closures.
A survey carried out by WHO in 39 sub-Saharan Africa found that schools are fully open in only six countries. They are closed in 14 countries and partially open (exam classes) in 19 others. Around a dozen countries are planning to resume classroom learning in September, which is the start of the academic year in some countries.
In Kenya, President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered closure of schools in March days after the outbreak of the virus in the country. They are expected to reopen in January 2021 after the Ministry of Education declared the 2020 academic year lost.
The agencies are now calling on governments in the African continent to consider safe reopening of the schools while taking measures to limit the spread of the virus.