Schools in Kenya reopen after a 9-month closure amid COVID-19

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Schools in Kenya re-open for full-time learning for all learners on Monday after a nine-month closure to contain the spread of COVID-19.

While the Kenyan government says together with development partners they will provide at least 7 million face masks for children from vulnerable homes, more than 8 million parents will have to dig deeper into their pockets to ensure the safety of their children from COVID-19.

SABC’s Sarah Kimani reports: 

Business people however say there is very little to smile about, and the re-opening of schools is unlikely to change their fortunes which have for months been battered by the prolonged closure.

In downtown Nairobi, parents squeeze inside a uniform shop in a last-minute rush ahead of the resumption of learning on Monday.

After nine months at home, getting a new set of school wear seems inevitable.

A parent Jairus Opae says “We kept our kids at home…previous uniform cannot fit them.”

Bookshops too are recouping some business. A bookseller in Nairobi, Kiran Dodhia says “We just keep our fingers crossed…”

It is a different story however further down in the city, where informal traders operate…making tin trunks and other day-to-day school items.

This is the worst Kelvin Munge and his colleagues have seen in the 15 years they have operated here. “At a time like this, we sell over 1 000 boxes because schools give us orders. This is usually our high season,” Munge explains.

Another trader Boniface Muli says, “Since the first positive case of COVID-19 was announced in Kenya, business has really gone down.  The few clients we have want us to repair their old tin boxes.”

Business is admittedly slow for this time of year. Parents say they’re digging deeper into their near-empty pockets. “It’s really pathetic,” says Opae.

Another parent, Jackline Mwendwa admits, “I have not even prepared my children to resume learning because my earnings are too little.”

Schools in Kenya reopen on Monday: