KUPPET’s End Year Report Spells Teachers’ Roles and Challenges When schools Reopen Next Week
The Kenya national union of post primary education teachers, KUPPET, has issued an end year report, which reveals the challenges awaiting teachers when schools reopen next week. The report, dubbed ‘Hard Work Awaits After School Reopening in 2021’, also reveals that that at least 50,000 teachers are needed in public schools to accommodate the learners, even as the school managers struggle to look for space and desks for the children.
According to the report, children who may have lost their parents, guardians or siblings to the corona virus disease will have to be offered guidance and counseling by teachers.
“Besides losing parents, breadwinners and loved ones, many learners have suffered economic and social trauma that will affect them for years,” read the report, signed by KUPPET secretary-general, Akelo Misori.
Teachers will also deal with a section of learners, who will come from homes where they experienced domestic violence during the prolonged break.
“Stigma associated with this pandemic, including child abuse, pregnancies, juvenile crime and recidivist behaviors, will be a reality in our institutions, affecting learners and teachers,” said Misori.
The report has urged schools to devise programmes to take care of the mental health of teachers “who have undergone immense stress during the period.”
Misori asked teachers to be accommodating and to protect their students’ secrets.
“When adolescents confide in counselors, they should be confident that their conversations will not seep into the staffrooms or in any way interface with their studies and relationship with teachers.”
Teachers will also be required to make plans to receive learners and guarantee their safety and health during their stay in school.
The rules are contained in the ‘Guidelines on Health and Safety Protocols for Reopening of Basic Education Institutions amid Covid-19 Pandemic’, which put teachers at the heart of successful management of the disease.
Their roles will range from ensuring hygiene, security, creating adequate space for social distancing and enforcing all Ministry of Healthy guidelines.
They will also ensure that learners, staff and parents wear face masks in the school compound.
Misori said the Government had repeatedly pledged to supply reusable face masks to all learners but noted that no school had confirmed receiving supplies.
From next week, teachers will be required to communicate to parents and learners on the measures put in place to guarantee their health and safety.
Through the report, the secretary general told teachers to work Hard to ensure full coverage of the school syllabus and help enhance transition, which would effect restoration of the academic calendar.
“Teachers will devise ways of recouping the time lost, including through holiday and weekend tuition. After missing out on an entire academic year, schools will strive to ensure no more days are lost again by our learners,” said Misori.
The union also advised that the crash study programme must be balanced with extracurricular activities to keep students engaged and relaxed to avoid unrest.
“The government should disburse capitation funds for the 2020 academic year to schools to help the institutions prepare for the reopening,” said Misori.
The official also warned that the teaching staff will be overstretched and called for more tutors to be hired.
“In Kuppet’s estimate, to maintain current staffing levels, Kenya needs 50,000 new teachers in 2021 and a further 15,000 every year for the subsequent five years.”
Misori said that private schools will also need more teachers to cater for new classes and a heavier workload related to the creation of virtual content, and for health and environmental management in schools.
Teachers will also be required to streamline transport management systems to prevent transmission of the disease, and provide weekly progress report on the status of their institutions.
The guidelines compel teachers to follow up on all cases of absenteeism and work with officials from the Ministry of Interior to reduce the dropout rate.
The Kuppet report notes that having spent a lengthy period away from school, learners will face difficulties readjusting to the system.
“Many will show weaker mastery of curriculum content. Students who lost their parents, or those from poor families affected by Covid-related job losses, will face difficulties raising school fees; while those who suffered abuse, became pregnant or have delivered babies may show aggression or withdrawal,” said Misori.
Under the ministry’s Covid-19 guidelines, teachers will be required to ensure that right class sizes are maintained to ensure adherence to social distancing.
Kuppet also observed that additional classrooms, laboratories, libraries, desks and dormitories will be necessary to meet social distancing regulations. “In underserved areas where privately funded schools may have collapsed, public ones will require greater infrastructure to cater for learners transferring from moribund institutions,” said Misori.
The ministry document says that availability of liquid soap, hand-washing facilities, disinfectants, thermal guns and facemasks, and enforcement of their utilisation will be the work of teachers.
The union also wants water and sanitation facilities for regular handwashing to be made available.