The Government of Kenya has identified some 27000 trees that will be used as semi-permanent classrooms once the schools fully reopen in 2021, following a 9-month closure due to Covid-19.
The initiative is as a result of the social distancing requirements meant to slow down the spread of Covid-19, where the previous environment where 60 students were sharing a classroom of 6 × 4 meters was deemed too risky due to the Pandemic. The trees will allow for full social distancing once all pupils resume on 4th January.
Education CS Prof. George Magoha announced that the trees were chosen for their ability to offer protection from (weather) elements, their sitting capacity and the approximate location from the schools. “Most of those trees are located within 800 meters of the host school and only 5% of them are more than 5 km from the schools. In such cases we are working to plant new trees that are near the schools although the challenge is that the areas involved are arid areas where acacia trees take many years to grow.”
The move to use tree shades as classroom was applauded as a progressive step by the government supporters, saying that it showed that the government was committed to a green economy and reducing the carbon footprint from the education sector.
“Our education will make use of the green building to help conserve the environment while at the same time enabling social distancing. Our ancestors used tree shades as primary meeting spaces and this is a tradition that we want to reclaim.”
While the trees have been found, there are are still no sufficient teachers to attend to the new ‘classrooms,’ with the current ratio of teachers to classes at 1:1. Pupils will be expected to be under a self taught program until the government can hire more teachers. At the same time, thousands of jobless teachers continue to idle at home.