Weekly Newsletter - Issue No 268
10th February - 14th February 2020


The Safety of Learners Shouldn’t be Taken Lightly

The cost of basic education in present-day Kenya seems to be life and is one that has left most parents wondering why they chose to take their children to school in the first place.

Schools that were formerly considered second homes and safe grounds for children have now become death traps. A series of tragedies emanates from our schools almost every 3 months. Each time an incident occurs, the pain incurred through loss of lives then wakes our consciousness to the monster that we have been feeding daily. What proceeds is a typical series of knee jerk reactions by the government through the Ministry of Education, which has now turned out to be that barking dog that never bites. Quickly after a tragedy we quickly return to the default mode where not much follow up is carried out and life continues as normal, but not for the immediate families.

Once more young and innocent lives in Kakamega Primary School are paying off, for what might also have been as in the past years, the mistake of a few adults. The incident adds to the pile of other ghastly incidents such as the Precious Top Talent school that cost 8 lives and other disasters in waiting such as St. Charles Mutego Educational Centre which seats just kilometres away from Precious Top Talent. These tragedies eventually lead to the disruption of training and learning in these institutions apart from exposing children to great hazards and trauma causing injustice to young children who entrust their security to adults.

The government of Kenya just like any other government globally invests a lot of resources in the attainment of basic education and promotion of education as a fundamental right. In its pursuit to improve the standards of education, it has appointed various committees, commissions and task forces to address major challenges faced by the sector. These bodies have come up with tons of reports and national standards where school safety is concerned, notably the Safety Standards Manual for Schools released in 2008 as a blueprint for enhancing school safety with a variety of safety measures to help schools improve the safety of learners.

News of the Week

Speaker Muturi notifies House on vetting of cabinet nominees

During the National Assembly special sitting on Monday, Speaker Justin Mutri notified the House on the proposed cabinet nominations done by President Kenyatta last month. 
He notified MPs of the nomination of former Nyeri MP Senator Mutahi Kagwe as CS for Health and Betty Maina who was promoted to head the Trade and Industrialization docket. Mr Kenyatta has also nominated Amb. Johnson Weru for appointment as Trade PS, Dr Jwan Ouma (Vocational and Technical Training), Mary Kimonye (Public Service), Amb. Simon Nabukwesi (University Education and Research), Solomon Kitungu (Transport) and Enock Momanyi Onyango (Physical Planning). Public Appointments (Parliamentary Approval) Act, Mr Kagwe and Ms Maina will be vetted by the Committee on Appointments chaired by Speaker Muturi while the six nominees for principal secretary posts will appear before the relevant departmental committees of the House.
The vetting of the nominees has been gazetted on Thursday, February 20th 2020.


NHIF risks collapse over cash crisis

A report by a Health Financing Reforms Expert Panel (Hefrep), which then-Health CS Sicily Kariuki set up to transform and reposition the NHIF task force, has expressed concern that if all factors remain constant, the insurer’s financial sustainability will be compromised. The report that was shared with the National Assembly's health committee indicates the panel raised concern that if the revenues of the fund remain the same, then it might not be tenable for them to continue offering services in the next two years.

Parliament resumes official sittings after special convening

Parliament has come back from the long recess to officially kick off this year's Parliamentary business. Both houses had their first proceedings of the year on Thursday following the disruption of their schedule with a special sitting to honour the departed retired President Daniel Moi. 
Not much was business was transacted as both Houses set out to approve members to the respective House Business Committees. 
During the special sitting on Monday, members from both houses and both sides of the political divide celebrated Moi as a patriot who displayed humility and had great vision for education in the country. Moi was laid to rest at his Kabarak home on Wednesday.

Public hearings conducted for the Mental Health Bill

The Mental Health (Amendment) Bill 2018 that was last year passed by the Senate was this week subjected to public participation. The Bill that has been sponsored by nominated senator Sylvia Kasanga has already gone through the first reading after which the committee on health sought views from the public.
Among those who attended were mental health practitioners, CSOs and mental health patients. The hearings were chaired by the health committee chair Sabina Chege who was also accompanied by other committee members; Hon Esther Passaris, Hon Mohamed Sheikh, Hon Gabriel Tongoyo, Hon Eseli Simiyu, Hon James Nyikal, Hon Stephen Mule, Hon Charles Njagagua and Hon Gladwell Cheruiyot. If passed by Parliament and assented to by the President, the law will see the incorporation of mental health facilities in all medical institutions, capacity building of medical and educational trainers and more funds allocated to mental health.

State seeks tough laws on use of drones

Drone operators will be banned from using imaging devices to conduct surveillance on or take a picture of a person without written consent if Parliament approves new regulations by the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA). The proposals have been tabled in Parliament by the Majority Leader Aden Duale. “A UAS (unmanned aircraft systems) operator or owner shall not use a UAS equipped with an imaging device to record an image of privately owned or leased real property or of the owner, tenant, occupant, invitee or licensee of such property with the intent to conduct surveillance.
“A UAS (unmanned aircraft systems) operator or owner shall not use a UAS equipped with an imaging device to record an image of privately owned or leased real property or of the owner, tenant, occupant, invitee or licensee of such property with the intent to conduct surveillance on the individual or property captured in the image in violation of such persons reasonable expectation of privacy without his/her written consent, “the rules state.
Search and rescue under the Civil Aviation (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) Regulations, 2019, a person is presumed to have a reasonable expectation of privacy on his/her privately-owned real property if he or she is not observable by persons located at ground level in a 0place where they have a legal right to be, regardless of whether he or she is observable from the air with the use of UAS.

Quote of the Week

"We have to decide how we're going to deal with this issue of Bills just getting stuck and then similar bills coming up while it's in the pipeline in the National Assembly. We need the House leadership to look at and see how we're going to unlock these bottlenecks that are happening."

Quote by Nominated Senator Abshiro Halake addressing the issue of delays in the passing of Senate-sponsored bills, while supporting the motion to approve senators to serve in the Senate Business Committee on February 13th 2020.

Lest we forget

"I am also unhappy about what happened in some school in Nairobi. It is important that we take an audit of all schools to make sure that something like that does not occur again. I hope that the committee in charge of this will take the job extremely seriously, as they usually do, to get to the bottom of the matter."

Comments by Baringo Senator Gideon Moi contributing to the Statement on the Precious Top Talent School tragedy on September 25th 2019.

Read the Hansard

Bills before the Senate

First Reading

Public Participation

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