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Why letter to Matiang’i on cold weather has gone viral

A letter prompted by the chilly weather to the Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i asking him consider introducing trousers as part of the uniform for children going to public primary schools has gone viral.

The 248-word letter posted by Sam Gichuri, a concerned parent, on his Facebook page on Friday and shared widely has generated debate with some pushing for the idea while those against it saying the current pupils are going through what everyone else passed through when growing up.

Mr Gichuri, who also addressed First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, asked them not to allow Kenya to be losing its children to “pneumonia because of preventable things like school uniform.”

Last year, pneumonia dislodged malaria as the top killer of Kenyans as deaths from HIV, tuberculosis (TB) and meningitis declined, according to Ministry of Health.

“It’s 14 degrees today, this is how our sons are going to school. I have a pair of jeans, a sweater, leather jacket, scarf and a cup of tea on my desk every 30 minutes in a warm office, with real windows and I’m still struggling with the cold,” said Mr Gichuri.

“Most primary schools in Kenya have no windows, most children have torn shorts and no socks or shoes. It’s unreasonable for us to expect children to concentrate in class, we are exposing them to all kinds of respiratory infections and other medical conditions,” he said.

The weather has been extremely chilly in the past one week due to the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere.


The phenomenon, which happens once a year, takes place between June 17 and June 22 and it’s when the tilt of Earth’s axis is most inclined towards the sun, directly over the Tropic of Cancer causing a long day of 17 hours of sunshine.

This, however, translates to chilly weather along the Equator and Southern Hemisphere with the weather man saying temperatures fell to less than 10 degrees celcius in areas around Mt Kenya.

On Saturday, the Deputy Director at Meteorological Department Peter Ambeje told the Sunday Nation the low temperatures are normal but it is expected to get colder as the traditional July cold season officially kicks in next week.

“The fluctuation is on a day to day basis but areas around the Arberdares especially Nyahururu and Timboroa in Rift Valley plus the lake basin where it will be coldest, temperatures will drop to even 5 degrees at night,” he said.

In his letter Mr Gichuri told the government that the culture of shorts especially was colonial and the equality that uniforms are supposed to create is no longer realistic as children from private schools are allowed to wear trousers.

“Let me add for my fellow middle class, not all kids get picked by a school bus or driven by parents or Uber to school, over 80 percent of them walk more than 1km to school in this weather,” he said.

“Please, my good friend,” he told Mr Matiangi, “I beg, issue a statement to allow all children across the country to wear home cloths and jeans etc to school during this season. We cannot have a debate about “uniforms create equality” during this season because the alternative is pneumonia.

The CS could not be reached for comment but opinion was divided among respondents whether it was a good idea to allow children to wear clothes to school as suggested by Mr Gichuri.