Schools empty as nationwide strike begins

January 19, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 19 – Teachers made good their strike threat on Monday paralysing learning in most city public schools.

A spot check by Capital News established that the strike was taking effect even though parents sent their children to school in the hope that the government would somehow be able to ensure learning takes place.

By 10am local time our crew only spotted a few teachers at the Moi Avenue Primary school, while in some public secondary schools learning was going on as usual. Head teachers and their deputies who showed up tried to keep order with the help of class prefects.

At other city primary schools some parents were spotted leaving the institutions with their children. Police meanwhile said they were on high alert to avert any chaos resulting from the strike.

In Nairobi, Police Spokesman Erick Kiraithe said any teachers found engaging in unlawful protests would face the law. He said his officers had an obligation to maintain law and order and that his officers would not allow any unlawful demonstrations in the country.

Nyanza Deputy Police Chief Larry Kieng said his men were under instruction to protect teachers who were willing to work. Addressing journalists, Mr Kieng said police were also keeping an eye on all private schools in the province.

In Meru and Trans Nzoia, no learning took place in any of the public schools. Police were patrolling the schools to avert any chaos as students slowly returned home.

The strike was outlawed on Saturday after the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) obtained a court order blocking the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) from engaging in the industrial action.

The union however maintained that the strike would remain peaceful and members were advised to remain at home.

Meanwhile, two KNUT officials and one teacher in Meru South who were arrested on Sunday were expected to be arraigned in court on Monday to face incitement charges.

They were arrested while driving around in a car with a Public Address system, telling teachers to proceed with Monday’s strike. The trio were arrested in Chuka town.

Thousands of teachers are on strike across the country, downing their tools and threatening the success of this academic term. They are protesting the government’s refusal to pay them a Sh19.1 billion salary increment. The Ministry of Education says it is only ready to pay Sh17.3 billion and in three phases.


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