Teachers Service Commission CEO Nancy Macharia receives the Covid-19 vaccine at TCS headquarters in Nairobi on March 11.
Mass Covid-19 vaccination for teachers kicks off today across the country, in a week that will also see KCPE and KCSE question papers distributed to the regions.
Head teachers have also hinted at early closure of schools starting today, if the government fails to release the Sh15 billion free education funds in time.
According to the school calendar, all schools are expected to close by Friday, March 19 to give way for administration of national examinations to 1.9 million candidates.
“We have not received the money and principals who have spoken with me said they will start closing schools as early as today if the money is not sent to their accounts,” said Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association chairman Kahi Indimuli.
“Most of the school heads that have spoken with me said they are not able to keep the children in schools any longer. The government promised to release the final tranche of 25 per cent by the end of February and we are still waiting,” Indimuli said.
Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha said the money would hit schools’ accounts last week. But 10 days later, schools are yet to receive the money and head teachers now say this will affect preparations for national examinations.
“We shall release the money next week to schools and therefore no one should try to cause panic or anxiety,” said Magoha last Thursday.
The Kenya National Examinations Council is expected to send a list of chemicals to be purchased by schools ahead of biology, physics and chemistry practical papers.
“Our preparations towards these examinations will be inadequate if the government fails to release the money in time,” said Indimuli.
Vetted and approved
This as reports indicate that distribution of the examination papers starts this week to the 479 containers that will be used to store the same.
Selection and training of invigilators and holding of county sensitisation meetings are all scheduled to end this week.
Some 1,088,986 candidates will sit the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) while another 699,745 will sit the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams.
The revised timetables show KCPE will start on March 22. The three-day exams will end on March 24, one day before the start of KCSE exams. The Form Four national exams will last three weeks and three days.
Teachers Service Commission (TSC) Chief Executive Officer Nancy Macharia said 227,679 teachers have been vetted and approved to administer examinations as supervisors and invigilators.
It was, however, not clear whether all the teachers who will take part in the administration of the national examinations will have been vaccinated by end of this week.
Macharia said last week that a meeting was scheduled with ministry task force for vaccine deployment to negotiate further details.
“We are also hopeful that all the teachers who will be invigilating and supervising examinations will have been vaccinated ahead of the start of the tests,” said Macharia.
What is, however, certain is that all the 15,000 teachers who fall between the age bracket of 58 years and above will get the injection starting today across the country.
Willis Akhwale, the chairman of the Covid-19 task force for vaccine deployment, said the vaccination will target teachers who are 50 years and above.
“We have limited stocks of the vaccine. Hence we prioritise groups. We are targeting those most at risk with the aim of saving lives. And teachers fall in this category of most at risk,” said Akhwale.
Macharia said identification of teachers who fall within the bracket has started. “We had planned for the 58 years and above so our field officers will identify these teachers for the exercise,” she said.
It is not clear whether teachers who do not fall within then said age bracket but have underlying conditions will get the jab.
Speaking last week during the launch of the vaccination exercise for teachers, Akhwale said: “We are expecting to receive another batch of about one million vaccines and these teachers will be considered at that time.”
Teachers have been requested to present themselves to the designated 575 centres for vaccination.
These include private, public and mission hospitals. Teachers will need to identify themselves at the facilities.
“Teachers will be vaccinated on identification. A system is being created to allow for pre-registration, which means they can select the post and date for vaccination,” said Akhwale.
The Ministry of Health identified teachers as among the frontline workers to get vaccination during the first phase of the exercise.
Macharia thanked President Uhuru Kenyatta for recognising teachers as frontline workers.
“This was the right decision to protect 330,671 teachers working in public schools and 158,000 in private schools,” she said.