Revision materials sent through emails and social media, phone calls and frequent communication with parents, and engaging students via WhatsApp are just a few ways teachers at St. Xavier High School in Bungoma, Kenya have continuously engaged learners amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Neighboring students have occasionally visited the school while wearing masks and observing health directives, collecting vital reading materials that have been made possible by the presence of the resident Xaverian Brothers who are part of the teaching staff and administration.
“Providing these services to students has been a challenge to achieve the desired learning objectives,” said Principal Ogutu Charles Wandera. “High cost incurred in printing learning materials and a lack of technological knowhow of the parents to access the materials for the students sent through different platforms has proven challenging. We appreciate our teachers for consciously engaging students despite all of this.”
Earlier this year, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta directed the country’s Ministry of Education and other relevant stakeholders that due to the increase in COVID-19 cases, to consider the reopening of basic educational institutions in January 2021. The Ministry of Education through the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) was mandated to offer virtual learning programs through radio stations and television.
The pandemic has negatively affected the financial state of the school, bringing fee collection to a halt, hence affecting other services such as payment of wages and salaries, school maintenance, security services, electricity bills, gardening and repairs.
“It is concerning that the school is experiencing only expenditure with no income from fee collection during this period,” said Mr. Wandera. He continued, “Despite COVID-19, St. Xavier High School is grateful to the Xaverian Brothers for the continuing moral and financial support during these trying period. We pray that God sees us through to a returned normalcy once again.”