Most learners will struggle when schools reopen — psychiatrist - Beaking Kenya News

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Thursday, 24 December 2020

Most learners will struggle when schools reopen — psychiatrist


A consultant psychiatrist says learners will have difficulties adapting to the classroom environment when they reopen in January. 

Dr Njagi Kumantha says many of them have developed a mental shift and abandoned learning during the prolonged school closure to prevent Covid-19 infection.

Save for those in Grade 4, Standard 8 and Form 4 who reported back in October, learners have been at home since March. 

Dr Kumantha, a former director at Mathare Mental Hospital, said most learners have got used to doing other things daily rather than learning such that reversing the trend will require a lot of effort.

He said they will experience culture shock before they can readapt, hence parents and guardians have to put in more effort to have them develop "educational mood".  

He said through this kind of therapy, the learners will conform to studying before opening school on January 4, 2021. The medic advised parents to use the remaining period to prepare their children for reopening by making sure they revise their work.

“Education is very important to the learners since apart from the physical growth, they also need mental and knowledge growth through education and thus they greatly need to go back to school,” Dr Kumantha said.

He at the same time expressed disappointment that learners and parents have developed anxiety and worry about possible Covid-19 infection owing to poor preparations of schools by the government.

Parents have raised concerns about possible mass infection given that most primary and secondary schools have done little if any to comply with the health protocols and guarantee the safety of children.

Congestion remains a cause for concern as social distancing is crucial to preventing the spread of the virus through contact. Extra classes, dormitories and other facilities have only been built in some schools.

The psychiatrist said very few extra desks have been made and there is no assurance that all schools will have personal protective equipment, sanitiser, soap and running water or even extra teachers to take care of an increased number of lessons due to additional classes.

He blamed the government for prioritising the proposed referendum through the Building Bridges Initiative, instead of preparing effectively for the reopening of schools to prevent mass infection and even deaths.

Dr Kumantha, however, expressed hope that vaccines could come in handy in containing the scourge.

He urged parents-teachers associations to meet before schools reopen to decide on the way forward even if it means joining hands and raising funds to buy extra desks to complement those bought by the government.

Dr Kumantha said tents can be hired to provide shelter and ensure social distancing and where dormitories are congested learners should be enrolled in nearby day schools.

He further advised learning be in shifts, with some attending classes half a day and others the other half so that one teacher can teach different classes while complying with social distancing rules. 

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