, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 5 – The Kenya National Association of Parents has condemned two teachers unions for disrupting the school calendar, accusing them of being selfish and hypocritical.
The union’s Secretary General Musau Ndunda says the month-long strike called by KNUT and KUPPET has caused unnecessary confusion and robbed children of their right to education.
“It is so bad that the Ministry of Education can issue a circular of when schools are opening but somebody says you cannot go until I give command. We want the President to tell us who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Republic of Kenya. Who is this other commander who can say children cannot go back to school until I give orders?” said Ndunda.
Ndunda added that in fact, several teachers who had absconded duty were not even registered with the unions, saying KNUT and KUPPET should not use union dues to frustrate the government.
“Education in this country is managed by few people who are calling the shots and undermining the ministry and the parents. We cannot allow certain individuals to use their financial muscle to frustrate education,” he added.
He said it was unfortunate that the two unions were sabotaging the education sector under the eyes of the ministry, and proposed that the government takes stringent measures to tame the ‘rogue’ unions by ‘clipping’ their wings.
“The unions in this country are proud because they get a lot of contributions from their members,” he said.
Addressing a press conference on Monday, Ndunda said they will be moving to court to seek the revocation of Section 48 of the Industrial Relations Act to stop the remittance of union dues by teachers.
He said the deductions from teachers had empowered the unions, calling on the Acting Labour CS Raychelle Omamo to revoke the gazette notice on the payment of the union dues and let the different organs recruit members who would adhere to their ideals.
“Let us not hold education sector at a ransom year in year out. Membership to any organisation is voluntary and you should not be forced so we will be moving to court to block the deductions then we will see whether they are going to survive in this country and whether we shall ever see the level of pride we are currently witnessing,” he stated.
Ndunda was angered by statements by officials of the two unions’ referring to the parents association as a ‘briefcase’ body saying they will be seeking Sh10 million from KNUT for undermining their mandate and cause.
Ndunda at the same time urged the government to review the school calendar and extend the term dates to December 11 to allow students adequately prepare for the next class.
“We must mind the fate of the 12 million school going children who will be suffering in the next few weeks …we must act now,” he retorted.
He supported the calls to increase teachers’ dues stating however that due process must be followed.
He also called on the Ministry of Education to issue a directive over the calculation of the term’s fees saying parents should be refunded for the period lost due to the month long strike.
He proposed that since the school calendar outlines that pupils are in school for 39 weeks, the refundable fee should be calculated from the days divided by the lost time and multiplied by the fee paid.
He said they had submitted their proposal to the ministry calling on CS Kaimenyi to ensure parents are not given a raw deal.
“We will not sit back and allow schools to exploit parents,” he added.
He was accompanied by Gerald Nyaga, the association’s National Chairman, Rachel Oduor, Treasurer and James Mala, the National Programmes Coordinator.
Meanwhile teachers began returning to public schools Monday after their unions suspended their strike, which had paralysed learning since the beginning of the third term.
The decision came after National Executive Council meetings by the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) and Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) following a directive by the Employment and Labour Relations court to suspend the strike for 90 days.
The two unions postponed the strike in what they termed as respect for the rule of law and directed their members to resume work at 8am Monday.