Back to school…for some

It might look a bit different to how it did in the pre-Covid world and it might only be for two year groups at the moment but, after seven months of closures, schools in Kenya are finally reopen!

Having initially been told that the 2020 academic year had been written off and that schools would not reopen before January 2021, the announcement by the government a couple of weeks ago that schools would reopen last week for primary years 4 & 8 pupils, caught us slightly on the hop.

Since then we’ve been busy bringing forward plans that we thought we had at least another 3 months to implement and I’m pleased to say that thanks to the support we have received from a wide-range of donors over the last few months we have been able to commit to the following package of support for our partner schools to help them create as ‘Covid-safe’ an environment as possible for pupils and staff. This includes:

  • The provision of an initial batch of 40 pedal-operated hand-wash stations (five for each of our eight partner schools);
  • Cash grants of £200 per school to purchase essential cleaning equipment and PPE;
  • The construction of a waste incinerator in each school;
  • Provision of sanitary waste bins for girls’/ladies toilets;
  • Supply of liquid soap, hand-sanitiser and disinfectants/detergents;
  • A contingency fund of £1,000 to provide clean water if-and-when other supplies are exhausted

Additionally, we have also taken the decision to resume our school meals programme for the 450+ children who are now back in school. Food is currently on order and the programme will hopefully be back up-and-running before the end of the month. Once it is so, we are also planning a distribution of food to those children who remain at home and will remain so until at least January.Since schools closed we have been able to maintain our financial support for schools so that they have been able to pay 50% of the salaries of non-government-employed staff who have been at home, and 100% for those that have remained on full-time duty. We are increasing our package of support so that more staff who are now returning to duty will be paid their salaries in full. Once schools have fully opened and teachers have a full timetable of lessons we have committed to further increase funding, where necessary, so that those staff can also be paid in full.

Elsewhere, we are now over a year into the redevelopment of our eighth partner school at Mkamenyi Primary and despite the challenges posed by Covid we are making good progress. We have already completed a number of classrooms and toilets, with more under construction, and are in advanced discussions with a private family foundation about funding for the next phases of work.

These remain challenging and uncertain times and the situation is very fluid in Kenya but we are grateful that thanks to the support of our donors we are in a position where we can be flexible and able to be there for our partner schools, their pupils and their staff when they need us most.