As schools reopen, Kenya’s poor have a new headache

Schools in Kenya on Monday began receiving students after a seven-month break due to the pandemic.

The closure of schools in March this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, interrupted learning for over 17 million students, according to UNICEF.

At Olympic Primary School in Nairobi’s Kibera shantytown, there were mandatory temperature checks, handwashing and wearing of face masks.

However not all parents have been able to send their children to school due to financial difficulties.

Hundreds of thousands of people across the country have lost their jobs because of the pandemic.

Drop-outs feared

Kenya’s drop-out rate for children at primary level was estimated at 21 percent before the COVID-19 outbreak.

UNICEF has warned a long exposure could make the situation worse as the closure of learning centres exposes adolescent girls to a higher risk of sexual abuse, HIV and teenage pregnancy

Single mother, Judith Achieng, lost her job providing laundry services and cannot afford to send her five children back to school.

“I feel bad because my children always ask me ‘when I will go back to school?’ I don’t know what to tell them because I do not have money,” the 35-year-old said.

“It is sad because my friends are getting an education yet I am not,” said Achieng’s 13-year-old daughter, Lavynne Atieno.

The reopening of schools in Kenya comes amid reports of a decline in the number of COVID-19 infections.

Seventy-three cases were recorded as of Monday and 11 deaths, raising the total number number of virus fatalities to 777.

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