SCHOOLS REOPENING

Ministry disregarded parents, learners’ needs

The Health ministry has consistently advised us to be safe than sorry.

In Summary
  • Everybody agrees that schools cannot remain shut forever but any hurried decision might be counterproductive.
  • Parents, teachers and school proprietors needs economic safety to afford school fees, pay their bills and thrive in modern societies. 
Education CS George Magoha.
Education CS George Magoha.
Image: FILE

During the National Covid-19 Conference, the President said schools should reopen when they are ready to deal with the pandemic. Even before the ink dries, the Education CS has ordered schools to reopen next week. This is such short notice for parents and learners.

Everybody agrees that schools cannot remain shut forever but any hurried decision might be counterproductive, especially to the gains made in fighting Covid-19. The Health ministry has consistently advised us to be safe than sorry.

It is my opinion that reopening schools so soon is not in the best interests of learners and parents. I will use Maslow’s Motivation Theory to demonstrate why the decision was not well thought-out.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a theory of psychology that seeks to explain human motivation based on the pursuit of different levels of needs. The theory states that humans are motivated to fulfil their needs in a hierarchical order. This order begins with the most basic needs before moving on to more advanced needs. The ultimate goal, according to this theory, is to reach the fifth level of the hierarchy: self-actualisation.

The learners’ physiological needs are the most inherent and all other needs, including learning, become secondary until these needs are met. Learners reporting back to school on Monday are doing so amidst a cloud of uncertainty and they are aware they are being used to test waters.

The second level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs consists of safety needs. Motivation comes from the need for law, order, and protection from unpredictable and dangerous conditions.

There are many examples of safety needs in the sschool environment as learners troop back next week. The ghost of the Covid-19 monster has not been exorcised and to ‘force’ children to schools is to be insensitive to the realities of the pandemic. To find stability and security, learners and teachers alike must consider their physical safety. This means seeking protection from the health risks posed by the pandemic.

Additionally, parents, teachers and school proprietors needs economic safety to afford school fees, pay their bills and thrive in modern societies. To announce the reopening of schools so abruptly long before our economy reopens and stabilises is to subject parents to untold suffering especially when we know the same ministry declared the academic year 2020 lost. The about-turn on reopening has caught many parents unawares, considering they needed sufficient time for back to school shopping.

There is also the issue of the national examinations. Candidates will be preparing for these important transitional exams in an unfriendly environment. Preparing for end of course exam, just like going to war, requires ample time. The ministry had earlier said the 2020 candidates will only sit the exams after they have covered the full period and their syllabus. Clearly, by March and April both classes cannot have covered their syllabi, considering some time will be utilised in catching up on the content lost during the six-month break.

Teacher