I want to encourage parents whose children sat the 2018 KCPE exam and have been admitted into schools that they had not selected or they did not exactly like.
I have heard of parents from my village whose children have been admitted to join Lokitaung Secondary School in Turkana County and whose nearest town sounds like it is in Tripoli, Libya.
One parent who went to survey a school where his daughter had been admitted to came back suffering from severe jet lag, and when he returned we went to the matatu terminus to welcome him back with songs and gifts like someone who had gone to Europe.
The head prefect in charge of education has already stated categorically that there shall be no select committee or taskforce in her ministry to look into cases of parents and children who are not happy with the schools they have been admitted to.
As a parent you can still try your luck if the principal of a major national school shares the same cattle dip with you in the village and you can exploit that acquaintance for him to squeeze one more bed space for your child.
You can also try your luck in a big school that caters for children from underprivileged backgrounds and claim that you hail from a poor ancestry despite the fact that you live in an ensuite house with a heated swimming pool and Jacuzzi.
However, if your luck runs out, just let your child join Lokitaung.
When I received the letter to report to my high school, aptly nicknamed Manyani after an infamous freedom fighter’s detention camp, no one in the entire village had heard of that school.
It lived up to its promise.
We showered in a communal bathroom with no doors and during peak shower time the place resembled a well-attended nudists conference.
During dinner, big weevils jumped out of our plates carrying all the maize and leaving us to starve with half-cooked beans and maize soup.
During lunch, we fished for pieces of cabbage from the cabbage soup and ate them with ugali that was made with flour from a nearby posho mill.
Luckily for us, the cabbage pieces were the size of an A4 page and we easily caught them and used them to cover our faces so as to avoid seeing some foreign bodies in the ugali. Then we swallowed the food with one song of praise and worship.
Tea in the morning was see-through like a piece of glass and it badly required a petticoat, but it had a lot of sugar to prevent us from gagging.
Bedbugs slept with us at night, sucking the top layer of our blood and leaving large bumps on our already pimple-infested skins.
The only spoken English I knew was just sufficient to ask for directions and borrow a few items that were shared including plates, mugs, spoons and scrubbing sacks.
I still don’t understand why we insisted on using pieces of sacks to scrub our bodies during shower time like we had been working in a dusty quarry all day. One piece of sack could be shared by the whole dormitory.
During peak showering period, one sack could serve more than five people at a go. The primary owner would scrub himself and as he rinses himself off, he would pass the sack to the next person in waiting who would sometimes proceed to use the sack without rinsing off the lather. If we never caught terrible skin diseases in that period, then there is something that dermatologists are not telling us.
But reading was serious business.
We competed fiercely because we realised that the only way out of that former detention camp was through education.
There was no time for anything else but reading, so we spent most of the time in class or in the library.
At night, the mere thought of joining the bedbugs in your bed kept you in class until late. When you woke up at 4am and realised that the bugs were just about to drain out all your blood if you did not take drastic action, you simply got up and went to the classroom and crammed the Archimedes principle again.
Out of the school emerged below average students who went to become prominent farmers and owners of chains of hardware shops and pickup trucks.
Out of the same school came average students who went to seek employment from the hardware shops and later started bars and car wash businesses outside the hardware shops.
The same school produced above average lawyers that we go to see when we have gotten ourselves in trouble with the boys and girls who are now wearing new blue uniforms.
The same school churned out sharp doctors that you go to see when your child has accidentally swallowed an insect. The doctor complicates the issue while consulting heavily from thick medical journals.
He gives you important clues including travelling to India where he knows a reputable insect charmer who can lure the insect from your child’s stomach. You refuse to buy into the idea because you don’t know of a matatu that plies the route between your village and India.
He therefore recommends two procedures that he calls endoscopy and biopsy, all the while peering from above his gold-rimmed glasses.
He finally interprets the lab reports from the procedures and tells you that your son requires to undergo surgery. He gives you a quote, you look at it and conclude you must sell something in order to afford his generous surgery fees.
You go home and look for things you have in pairs and you can do without one. It is a hard decision, you announce to yourself. The only possible culprits are one of your kidneys.
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow
Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.