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Maandamano: Select schools reject Government’s back to school schedule

Cabinet Secretaries Ezekiel Machogu (Education) and Professor Kithure Kindiki (Interior) called on schools in Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu Counties to re-open from today, July 20, 2023, after initially ordering them shut in light of the announced three-day opposition-led demonstrations that kicked off on Wednesday, July 19, 2023.

They had cited security risks and planned violence near schools, but a day later, they announced the situation had been reassessed and it was safe to re-open schools.

“On the basis of the evaluation, it is hereby directed that all day primary and secondary schools in Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu Counties re-open for normal school activities on July 20, 2023. The government has put in place adequate measures to ensure the safety of learners and their schools across the country,” read a statement from the Secretaries.

However, despite these assurances, some select schools shied away from re-opening their institutions and welcoming learners back to the classroom.

“Good evening, dear parents/ guardians. You may have heard the government’s directive to resume normal school activities as from tomorrow, Thursday, 20th of July 2023. However, out of an abundance of caution, it was decided that our learners should not report to school tomorrow. We received reports today of skirmishes in some areas that our school transport uses as routes. We, therefore, cannot guarantee the safety of our learners, staff, and transport vehicles.

Also read: Maandamano Live Blog: Day 2

As such, the school management advises that all learners stay home tomorrow and be engaged in revision work. We will notify you when the learners should resume based on the prevailing conditions. Likewise, our annual school sports day is postponed due to these disruptions.

The new sports day will be duly communicated to you soon. Let’s continue praying for peaceful coexistence and safety in this nation. Wishing you God’s blessings, guidance, and protection.Thank you,” read a statement from a school in Imara Daima off Mombasa Road, Nairobi.

A Christian school in Nairobi’s Eastlands issued the following statement to parents regarding the second day of planned demonstrations, “Absence from school – Thursday 20th July 2023. Dear parent, owing to the ongoing demonstrations and tension in many parts of the country, and in exercising abundant safety caution for our learners and staff, we will not have school on Thursday, 20th July 2023. We recommend that all learners stay indoors as much as possible, even as we monitor the developments. Let’s continue to preach peace everywhere and pray for our dear country. Thank you. Admin.”

On many online discussions, parents also expressed apprehension in sending their children off to school despite the government’s reopening announcement and assurance, some saying their children will return to school next Monday, July 24, 2023.

Also read: Schools in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu reopen after one-day closure over demos

“The govt just wants to show that there is no disruption of normal operations, but truth is tomorrow won’t be so safe to take kids to school,” opined Loyo.

“Pp2, she’s got so many years ahead ili amalize shule (until she finishes school). So shule ni mpaka (school is until) Monday,” added Georgina.

“That’s govt advice to the public but as a parent you can think twice. Also remember Azimio is very categorical on maandamano,” added Cedric.

“Just let the kids be safe don’t risk these people’s lives you never know what might happen.. missing 3 days of school isn’t a big deal . Inhaling teargas and that trauma of school children running around aimlessly is a bigger deal to me,” added Esther.

“You just have to choose which is more important… Your child or their education… When you make the choice utakuwa na (you will have) the right answer automatically,” said Sharlene.

These apprehensions come in the wake of a school in Kangemi being tear-gassed by police last Wednesday as they battled demonstrators on the Waiyaki way. 51 students from the KihumbuIni Primary School were hospitalized with various issues, the majority with breathing problems.

Also read: Sifuna: We are just getting started with maandamano