KENYAN SCHOOLS REOPENING? Vital lessons we must learn from China

Lessons from China on schools reopening


Kenyan schools have six weeks to prepare for resumption of learning activities amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The big headache, especially in primary and secondary schools, still remains how the government will implement social distancing among learners.

Education CS George Magoha will be meeting education stakeholders on Monday, September 14 to deliberate on the models of reopening.

The government has set aside Sh1.9 billion meant for the supply of locally-made desks to primary and secondary schools countrywide.

Last week, we talked about how the United Arabs Emirates (UAE) has been able to successfully reopen learning institutions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

We also elaborated on how the UAE schools have been given five reopening models to choose from which include; Full day face-to-face, Half-day face-to-face, Alternating day, Alternating week, and A blended hybrid model.

READ THE FULL “Lessons from UAE” STORY HERE…KENYAN SCHOOLS REOPENING? Lessons we must learn from the United Arabs Emirates (UAE)

This week, we look at how China is taking the whole schools reopening programme, bearing in mind that this is the country where the coronavirus outbreak started.

A notice released by Beijing education authorities indicated that students of 1 to 12 grades to resume school from August 29 to September 7. Kindergarten are to return from September 8 to 11.

According to Chinese media CGTN; Universities in other low-risk regions of China are also preparing to welcome students back to campus. Anhui Medical University has already had its first batch of freshmen registered on campus, the first in the country. And Wuhan University announced to start the fall semester on September 6.

It is important to note that China has largely depended on its authoritarian system of governance to successfully reopen learning institutions.

Schools reopen according to their conditions

Universities, colleges and vocational institutions have been told to self-assess and decide which time they want to resume learning, but they have to get approval from authorities.

Medical staff at school entrance

When the schools were reopening this month, Chinese authorities installed medical staff at every school entrance, taking temperatures of students and parents. Temperatures will be taken at least thrice a day.

Learners are required to have a coronavirus test result, such that an administrative official will have a look at it as well as review the student’s travel history.

Ostensibly, the students have also been discouraged from speaking while eating or taking public transportation.

All-out, Command-and Control approach

Just like the UAE, China has also put in place the common containment protocols placed by many governments struggling to reopen. But it is in the manner of implementation that makes China tik.

The President Xi Jin Ping’s government has gone all out to ensure each and every soul in China rallies behind the measures with almost zero dissent.

Local Communist Party of China cadres have been mobilised to make sure all teachers adhere to the COVID-19 containment measures put in place, including instructions on hygiene.

This local officials and party cadres also inspect classrooms in their locale, monitor students and staff, as well as restrict their movements using apps.

And as New York Times reports, President Xi recently said that country’s progress in fighting coronavirus had “fully demonstrated the clear superiority of Communist Party leadership and our socialist system.”

Government investment

The Chinese government has been proactive in equipping schools that have already reopened with facemasks, gloves, thermometers, hand sanitisers and other PPEs.

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