Students Stranded Following Machogu’s Midnight Directive to Extend School Holiday

Students around the country were left stranded after Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu abruptly pushed back the school opening date to May 6. 

Machogu issued a midnight instruction stating that it was wise to postpone the reopening date due to flooding in numerous parts of the country.

This was made a few hours before the formal start of school on Monday, April 29. In Ruaka, students trembled in the cold, waiting for school buses that never arrived.

While some school administrators read the directive that was distributed via social media, some students did not. 

Students in Kitengela and Athi River stood in puddles of water, knowing that the Ministry of Education had ordered them not to attend school just a few hours before. 

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The pupils and their guardians had braved the flooded and muddy roads and trails to get to school on time.

Even the teachers had already prepared for school when one of the teachers at a Kitengela school informed us that the management had decided to hold a school meeting instead.

School parents also complained that they had already booked their pupils’ travel. A mother mentioned that her children were at the Nairobi Country Bus early in the morning as they did not know about the directive.

Another parent noted that he had previously booked Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) train tickets and was asking if he would receive a refund. 

The government had previously encouraged Kenyans to avoid taking undue risks by crossing flooded waterways. 

According to CS Machogu, the destructive consequences of the rains in some schools were so severe that it would be irresponsible to endanger the lives of students and staff until watertight safeguards were put in place to ensure appropriate safety for all impacted school communities.

The CS stated that, based on this assessment, the ministry has decided to postpone the reopening of all primary and secondary schools by one week.

This is a relief for parents, some of whom had pushed the authorities to postpone the reopening of schools due to the constant rain.

On Sunday morning, the CS said that schools would reopen today as planned, except those affected by water.

Mr. Machogu stated that the Ministry of Education will collaborate with relevant agencies and stakeholders to implement measures to reduce the negative effects of the rains, and that it will provide frequent updates on all education-related issues.

So far, the floods have killed more than 80 people and displaced at least 131,450.

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The Kenya Meteorological Department Director, David Gikungu, cautioned that rains would persist in various parts of the country for the next seven days. He also mentioned the potential for landslides on steep slopes.

Tana River is one of the counties severely impacted by flooding. The overflowing River Tana has forced some families to flee their homes, threatening to overflow its banks. Other residents of the region have been living in displaced persons camps since last year, after their homes were destroyed by El Niño rains.

Floods have also displaced families in Nairobi, areas of the Rift Valley, Nyanza, and western and central Kenya.

Students Stranded Following Machogu’s Midnight Directive to Extend School Holiday

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