Two education unions in Kenya have called for a complete lockdown of the country to ensure the safety of educators and students. The proposal is just one of those submitted by the unions for the effective and successful management of the health, education, and economic crisis caused by the spread of COVID-19.
The Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) and the Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET), both affiliated to Education International, have commended the government for its effective and swift response to the COVID-19 emergency, especially the decision to close down schools as a safety measure.
However, the unions have urged the Kenyan government to follow the example of other countries and to implement a complete lockdown of the country. This would help to limit the negative impact of the disease, the unions said, and would be the most effective means of ensuring the safety of students and educators. It would also help to ensure that “normal life can resume” as soon as possible.
The spread of COVID-19 is affecting education communities in different ways, from an economic and social dimension to effective learning opportunities. The education unions highlight the challenges and inequalities posed by distance learning in a country where most students do not have access to the internet.
KNUT has specifically asked the government not to transform schools into medical centres for treating COVID-19 victims and, instead, to use existing facilities for this.
Health and the economy
Both unions have asked the government to encourage, promote, and enforce measures around social distancing and healthy habits such as handwashing in order to keep the population safe.
On the economic side, both acknowledge the deep impact that this crisis is having on Kenyan families and their household economies. The unions have asked for support measures that will diminish this impact, such as tax reductions, food and medicine provision, and rent exemptions.