UNICEF hands over masks, solar radios and textbooks to Ministry of Education

700,000 masks will be distributed to schools to assist with safe reopening on 4 January

23 December 2020
Handover at the Ministry of Education
UNICEF Kenya/2020/Lameck Agwata

23 December 2020, Nairobi – Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha today received the first of 700,000 masks from UNICEF Representative to Kenya, Maniza Zaman. The masks will be distributed to schools to assist with safe reopening on 4 January 2021. Alongside the masks, UNICEF has provided solar-powered radios and textbooks to vulnerable families, to help with remote learning during school closures, and is installing hand washing facilities in over 600 schools.

“The Ministry of Education appreciates the support from UNICEF, both during the period of remote learning and the phased reopening of schools,” Prof. Magoha said when he received the consignment at his Jogoo House office in Nairobi. “Together with the Government’s own investments, UNICEF’s support has helped to minimise children’s learning loss during school closures and will now help them return to school safely.”

“UNICEF fully supports the Government’s phased reopening of schools, including the return of remaining year groups on 4 January 2021,” UNICEF Representative Maniza Zaman said. “The latest evidence confirms that the risks to children of being out of school are much higher than the risks they encounter in schools. However, we need to do everything in our power to ensure that learners are as safe as possible when they go back to class. To support this, UNICEF has procured masks for the neediest students and has installed hand washing facilities in selected schools.”

The 700,000 masks will distributed to primary and secondary school students. These are reusable cloth masks, comprising three layers of 100 percent cotton, in line with Kenya Bureau of Standards specifications. They are marked with the text: “GOK/UNICEF Not for Sale”. The masks will be distributed to the most vulnerable schools by the Ministry of Education, based on average class sizes, monetary poverty, and equity within counties. Following these criteria, 611 primary and 365 secondary schools have been selected in the 47 counties. This includes schools in informal settlements, special needs schools, and schools with the highest pupil to classroom ratio.

This follows earlier distributions of solar powered radios and textbooks, to assist with remote learning while children were out of school. Through the Ministry of Education, UNICEF is distributing over 10,000 solar powered radios with light bulbs to vulnerable households, reaching at least 40,000 children. The radios are being distributed in areas where access to remote learning is low, but radio coverage is high. They aim to increase access to lessons produced by the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development. With the light bulb, learners can also work during the evening in areas without electricity.

Primary and secondary textbooks and other school supplies (pens, notebooks, pencils and pencil sharpeners) have been distributed to over 38,500 learners, including children with disabilities. The textbooks cover English, mathematics and environmental science and are intended to reduce loss of learning by enabling students to revise lessons at home.

To further assist with school reopening, UNICEF has also supported the Ministry of Education in the area of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). As part of this, UNICEF has provided hand washing stations at 397 schools in eight counties, providing 186,000 children with access to regular hand washing. This includes water tanks with taps and a supply of soap. By the time schools reopen on 4 January, UNICEF will have supported an additional 118,000 school children in 235 primary schools with hand washing facilities and soap.

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Joy Wanja Muraya
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UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org/kenya