The WERK Memorandum to the National COVID-19 Education Response Committee (II) is WERK’s submission to the National COVID-19 Education Response Committee constituted by the Ministry of Education to explore the best possible response strategies for the basic education sub-sector.

Kenya faces unprecedented challenges in re-opening schools following the closure necessitated by efforts to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent reports from World Health Organization (WHO) suggest that the virus might be around longer than expected and there is therefore a need to adapt and ensure social services like education are not interrupted indefinitely.

In the wake of these mitigating measures such as curfews and reduced movement, households in Kenya have faced increased economic strain due to lost income, and school closures have had widespread implications for girls from poor households in terms of school-feeding programs that they rely on for nutrition. Further, there has been an increase in reported cases of gender based violence and violence against children, including sexual abuse, child labor and associated mental abuse while confined at home.

WERK has carried out extensive research in marginalized communities among the urban poor and in ASAL areas of Kenya and has, over the years, indicated that indeed girls and women are disadvantaged in terms of access to education and nutrition and are more prone to gender based violence and mental abuse

The memorandum specifically navigates and proposes for the continued educational opportunities for girls from poor households in the wake of COVID-19 in the light of nutrition, gender based violence, mental health and use of technology to enhance online learning. The memorandum is based on current events and past research.

This memo offers insights from our research, and makes recommendations to the Committee accordingly. Mitigating the challenges faced by girls from poor households particularly on nutrition, gender based violence, mental health and psychological well-being and learning using online platforms will ensure continued growth in education and socio-economically in preparation of reopening of schools. The unprecedented future of reopening schools will then be better planned for.