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Magoha bans journalists from schools

Parents will be in the dark concerning school operations and whether schools are strictly implementing the Covid-19 protocols since the government has banned media visits to the learning institutions.

Also in the dark, will be Donors and well-wishers who will want to support needy schools in ways not limited to; supply of masks, construction of hand-washing points and expansion of classrooms since they may not have the true picture of the needy cases.

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It will be very difficult to know of instances where institutions relax Covid-19 containment measures.

The decision that led to banning media from schools was made during a special stakeholders’ meeting, chaired by Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i on Sunday 4th January 2021. In attendance were Cabinet Secretary for education, George Magoha ; cabinet secretary for ICT, Joe Mucheru ; cabinet secretary for health,  Mutahi Kagwe; and cabinet secretary for transport, James Macharia.

Council of Governors (COG) representatives, chief administrative secretaries, principal secretaries, senior government officials and representatives of public and private schools also attended the meeting.

A day after schools opened, the government kicked off reinforcement of the ban with teachers warned to keep journalists at bay.

A text message from top government officers and widely circulated to all regional and county directors instructed them against allowing journalists in schools.

“Watching news and seeing that the media have unfettered access to schools is worrying. Regional and county directors of education, warn school heads that the media should not access schools unless with authority,” read the text.

Sources have it that the ill-preparedness of most schools had exposed the government, leading to the ban.

“Most of the schools are not well prepared for reopening and their head teachers and staff are doing what is humanly possible to accommodate learners,” said a head teacher.

“Parents will be very anxious because they may not be sure of their children’s safety. Media does a good job of exposing the good and bad, which most of the times inform changes,” claimed another teacher.

Many schools across the country are ill-prepared for resumption of learning, with numerous challenges including lack of learning space and other basic facilities. Social distancing is still a challenge in most institutions and so are other Ministry of Health protocols against spread of Covid-19.

Magoha on his side has maintained that all was well and there were no visible challenges in schools. He even warned the media against exaggerating situations in schools.

“You should not create challenges where there are none,” he accused a journalist.

Senior Ministry of Education officers and some county directors, however, said that the ban was due to fear of spread of covid-19 in learning institutions. Journalists were listed as potential super spreaders as they tour many places and may infect the children.

However, top Ministry of Education officials, including Magoha himself, continue touring schools around and even inviting the media to cover him.

Most public school heads have received instructions not to allow media into their institutions and the texts are still streaming.

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