The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the Kenyan educational system with a massive, unprecedented blow. As soon as the first positive case was announced on March 13, 2020, schools were immediately shut down, oblivious of what was to come in the next few months.
The graph of daily infections is still steadily increasing, with about 600 cases per day as of early August. In total, Kenya has recorded 26,928 cases and 423 deaths -- the curve is yet to peak and stabilize, and so a reduction in cases will perhaps not be a reality in the near future. Because of this, the question of in-person learning is not on the table.
The solution, then, must be online learning, right? However, the problem to think about is that a huge majority of schools and students are not equipped with the necessary resources to conduct effective online learning either.
As soon as schools were shut down, a small minority of students resumed with their education through taking classes online, leaving millions of others at home with nothing to keep them busy and propagating the issue of teen pregnancies. Consequently, to address this glaring issue of inequality, in July 2020, the Kenya Ministry of Education decided to scrap the entire school year, as though it didn't exist. Since the academic year begins in January, all students in the national educational system are set to 'repeat' an entire year, that is, those meant to be in 5th grade this year will now begin 5th grade in January 2021.
As for those students in expensive European and American international schools, they will happily resume their studies after an unusual summer break, albeit online -- this only makes the already apparent educational inequality worse.
I personally do not believe that schools in my country are ready to resume for in-person learning. But perhaps what's most devastating is that if in-person learning is not possible, no learning at all is for most students in Kenya. It's a brutal awakening call of the inequality that plagues the learning system.
And, what if, when January comes, the country still isn't ready to reopen schools? We need practical and viable solutions!
NB: Universities and colleges have been closed for physical instruction as well until January 2021, but they may still conduct their operations through remote means.