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Schools closed for three days for Raila’s planned demos

Thousands of learners will miss classes for three days this week as the effects of the clash between opposition demonstrators and security forces disrupt lives.

A number of schools sampled by Nairobi News in areas considered hotspots during demonstrations have issued instructions to parents to keep their children at home due to fears of violent clashes.

The rallies in Nairobi and other selected towns could see a showdown between opposition leaders, their supporters, and the police as they continue with civil disobedience against the government.

Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu has maintained that learning should go on uninterrupted and asked the police to ensure the security of learners.

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Mr Machogu has urged the Azimio la Umoja Coalition to stop organizing the antigovernmental demonstrations so that school activities can go as planned.

“We are appealing to our brothers and sisters who are organizing these (Protests) to desist from doing so because whatever issues we have we can be able to resolve the issues in a much more amicable manner than resulting in protests,” he said.

“Children should be able to come to school as usual because the government will ensure enough measures are put in place so that there will be no interference in the school’s program.”

Additionally, Mr Machogu advised Kenyans to refrain from taking part in the protests in order to stop further property damage and fatalities.

More than a dozen schools in Nairobi and its surroundings that Nairobi News sampled showed that the pupils had been told to report to school back on Monday.

Kinderville Junior School said in a memo to parents that for the safety and well-being of their leaders and staff, they shall take a break from Wednesday, 19 to Friday, 21 July 2023, due to the planned nationwide demonstrations. We shall resume classes on Monday, 24 July 2023.

“During that time, the leaders will be assigned work to do on the portal, worksheets, and workbooks. Our team will be monitoring the work given on the portal on a daily basis. All programmes and school trips scheduled for Saturday, 22nd July 2023, shall remain as planned,” they said.

Also read: Maandamano shutdown: Schools in Nairobi, Mombasa closed over demos

They added that they will closely monitor the situation, and should there be a change of events, “we shall communicate promptly on early resumption of classes.”

At Kianda School it was almost the same with the school advocating for the safety of the students and staff. “the Academic Council has suspended physical classes on Wednesday 19th to Friday 21st. The students will instead have flexi learning done at home. The teachers will guide the students on how this will be carried out. Flexi learning will accommodate those students who may not have the facilities for online classes. Kindly ensure that your daughter does her school work. Should the situation change then we will resume physical classes,” they said.

In Kitengela, the Ark Junior School said that as a school there nothing to take more seriously that the safety of their students, staff and school as a whole.

“In line with the planned demonstrations by the opposition this week on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, the school management wishes to notify parents that students will not be allowed to attend school in person on the days of demonstrations.

Speaking to Nairobi News, the secretary-general of the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers Akello Misori described the loss of learning time as “massive” and called for dialogue between the parties involved.

“We’re not happy with the manner in which the political class is managing the political discourse. We expected the politicians not to be violent and the police to be civil and we also expected the planners of the protests to avoid installations like hospitals and schools and public utilities. The union can’t support what’s going on and calls for very engagement,” Mr Misori said.

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“Let the political class give us a break and engage in more respectable engagement that will guarantee an environment for transacting business and for children to learn,” he said.

The cancelation of schools comes as calls continue to pile pressure on President William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga to end the anti-government protests called by the Opposition.

The Azimio La Umoja brigade has vowed to stage mass protests on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday in a show of revolt against President Ruto.

Dr Ruto, however, has vowed to prevent the protests, saying he will mobilise resources to ensure they do not take place.

The coalition stressed that the demonstrations aimed at tackling the high cost of living and calling for electoral reforms would be peaceful.

According to the United Nations Human Rights Office, almost two dozen people died in violence related to the demonstrations last week, which expressed concern about “widespread violence, and allegations of unnecessary or disproportionate use of force, including the use of firearms, by police.”

Also read:Azimio demands reinstatement of Raila’s security ahead of three-day protests

The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef) said that it was deeply concerned about the safety and well-being of children in Nairobi and various regions of Kenya.

In a statement following the recent protests that rocked various parts of the country on Wednesday, the organisation appealed to all parties involved to take necessary measures to ensure the safety and protection of children.

“The reports of children being exposed to tear gas and other dangers in large crowds are alarming. We call on all parties involved to take the necessary measures to ensure the safety and protection of children. Children should never be exposed to harm and their fundamental right to education must be protected,” she said.

It added that it would continue to work tirelessly in partnership with local and national authorities to ensure the well-being of children across Kenya.

The appeal came after at least 53 children were taken to hospital in Nairobi after police threw tear gas into their classroom during protests on Wednesday.

Businesses were shuttered and looted, and public infrastructure was vandalized with commuter train services suspended due to attacks on carriages, according to Kenya Railways Corp.

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