NAIROBI, September 30 – The Kenya Union of Post Primary Teachers (KUPPET) is adamant that their intended strike would go ahead despite threats by the government.
KUPPET Chairman Akello Misori vowed in an interview with Capital News that the strike will take place and would go on until the government agrees to harmonise their salaries with those of other civil servants.
“The strike is still on. Unless something visible comes to the table, we are not calling it off. It is unfortunate we cannot help it. We know this is a hard term, but it is not us to blame. It is the government to blame,” he said.
He explained however that the strike did not necessarily mean street protests, but more so boycotting classes and asking students to go home.
“Going to the streets is another option, but we are civilised and teachers will not do that. We may ask parents not to let their children go to school. We can also ask those in boarding schools to go home,” Misori stated.
He accused Education Minister Professor Sam Ongeri of demanding a register of KUPPET members as an excuse not to listen to their concerns.
The chairman added that they have a register, which they have also presented to the Commissioner of Labour, but stood that they would not hand it over to the Minister.
Meanwhile, earlier on Tuesday Prof Ongeri said that the planned strike by KUPPET was illegal and warned them that any participants would face the full force of the law, as well as disciplinary cases.
He said the rule of law would apply since the union had not abided by agreements arrived at during consultations with the ministry.
“They cannot declare a strike. They have not fulfilled what they told me they will fulfil, if they go on strike it will be illegal and you know the consequences of an illegal strike,” Prof Ongeri cautioned.
The Minister said that he had asked them to verify the number of KUPPET members after failing to meet the mandatory 51 percent for them to be recognised.
He said the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) has 53,000 members and KUPPET only has 11,000, which is not close enough to represent the interests of all teachers.
KUPPET has been threatening to take to the streets because it wants the TSC to negotiate its strike as opposed to the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT).
However, they are likely to be unheard after Ongeri maintained that the membership had to meet the 51 percent requirement to be recognised, since TSC is a similar union to KUPPET.
KNUT on its part has urged teachers not to go on strike until the negotiations with the government are concluded.
Peace in schools
The Minister spoke as he launched the Peace and Psychosocial Intervention Programme at the Kenya Institute of Education on Tuesday.
He said the programme is meant to help heal students affected by the post election crisis.
“The violence early this year had profound effects nationally and to the education sector, some learning institutions were burnt down,” he said. “Teachers, education officers and learners were displaced. There was a general disruption of teaching and learning; these experiences resulted to trauma, stress and other psychosocial effects.”
Prof Ongeri noted that the programme would guide teachers, students and parents in dealing with the effects of the chaos to ensure they recover from the 2007 elections crisis.
He said the programme would further guide teachers in dealing with school strikes as well as counsel students on the same.
The Minister noted that the massive strikes experienced this year required aggressive counselling as well as proper guidance to ensure that they do not recur.
On examination leakage, Prof Ongeri reminded students, teachers and parents not to fall into the traps of people purporting to have the exam papers saying they were inaccurate.
He said several arrests had been made and the government was still hunting for more suspects.
He assured that the government had further improved its mechanisms for handling any irregularities during this year’s national examinations, which are fast approaching.
This year 990,000 students have been registered as candidates for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE), while 305,000 will sit the KSCE, which starts next month.