Parents and teachers are concerned about the safety of students returning from half-term break on Monday, which coincides with rallies organised by the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition.
Students began their half-term holiday on Wednesday, but with a conflict brewing, the chair of the National Parents Association, Silas Obuhatsa, begged President William Ruto and Azimio leader Raila Odinga to engage in discussion to avert a crisis.
“With demonstrations, you can never know the outcome. There are parents who support both Azimio and Kenya Kwanza coalitions. We appeal to the two leaders to dialogue for the sake of the country, for the sake of children who are innocent. Children didn’t vote,” Mr Obuhatsa said.
Mr. Odinga has called for mass demonstrations to push the government to cut the cost of living, among other demands.
Mr. Obuhatsa voiced concern that transportation to various regions of the country would be disrupted on Monday, with students who had to travel long distances likely to be caught up in the chaos.
“Some hooligans may also take advantage of the situation to manhandle children. In such a situation, they’d rather be with their parents,” Mr Obuhatsa said.
Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) chairperson Omboko Milemba called for the postponement of the reopening to Wednesday to keep children out of harm’s way.
“We’re asking the Ministry of Education to adjust the half-term accordingly. Doing so doesn’t show we support Azimio but it’s about the security of children, teachers and workers,” he said and asked parents to be keen on the political developments leading up to next week.
Mr Milemba, who is also the MP for Emuhaya Constituency, called on the government and the opposition to negotiate so that the school programme is not affected.
However, Kenya National Union of Teachers Secretary-General Collins Oyuu said that changing the reporting date might be seen as supporting Mr Odinga.
Parents who spoke to the Nation also expressed worry about the safety of their children.
“We have requested the school administration to allow the children to go back on Tuesday when things have calmed down. We haven’t yet gotten a response but we don’t want anything that can compromise their safety or their parents, ” Cyprian Odongo, a parent, said.
Evans Kimani said that although his children are meant to report back on Monday, he’ll delay their reporting until the situation calms down.
“Nobody knows how long the crisis might take. I’ll wait before I make a decision,” he said.