, MOMBASA, September 7 – Campaigns have begun to fill the tough seat left vacant by the exit of the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) secretary Francis Ng’ang’a two days ago.
A group allied to the acting Secretary General Lawrence Majali began peddling tales of his experience Sunday, saying that he was right for the top job of national executive secretary.
Speaking ahead of the December election of KNUT officials, the Union’s Vice National Treasurer Benson Kithuku took the campaigns to Kilifi district in coast province, where he urged officials and union members in the region to combine their efforts and campaign to ensure Majali captured the seat.
“Majali has a lot of experience with the affairs of KNUT and electing him to the post would boost the performance of the union, especially in efforts to fight for teachers’ rights,” Kithuku said at a branch Annual General Meeting at Pwani University.
“Though teachers in Eastern province fully support Majali to take the seat, the coast KNUT members have to put in place proper campaign strategies to solicit votes from other provinces,” he added.
Ng’ang’a has been at the helm of the giant union for the past seven years and can be accredited with successfully securing a pay-rise for teachers country-wide after leading a damaging one-month strike.
He stepped down after attaining the retirement age of 60, in line with the Union’s policies.
His successor would have the staggering task of ensuring teachers are well placed to meet the challenges that have been brought about by free education, plus the issue of student counselling necessitated by the recent wave of unrest that saw the extensive destruction of property in several secondary schools.
Kithuku meanwhile has urged teachers to be prepared for a national strike that KNUT would announce if the government does not increase their salaries.
“It’s a common trend that teachers in this country cannot get their rights from the government until they go in the streets for them to be heard,” he said without giving further details.
However, at a press conference in Nairobi on Sunday, the Union of Post Primary Education Teachers, KUPPET, issued a 21-day strike notice to demand the harmonisation of their salaries with those of other civil servants.
KUPPET Secretary General Njeru Kanyamba told journalists that the Education Minister Professor Sam Ongeri had failed to address their issue despite promises from Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
He claimed that more than 80,000 teachers in job groups J to R have been discriminated against despite their qualifications.
The union has already downplayed a proposed 210 percent pay increase, insisting on nothing short of the harmonisation.