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Learning resumes in Kenyan schools

NAIROBI, Kenya Jan 30 – Learning in schools across the country kicked off to a slow start on Friday after teachers ended their nine-day strike.

A spot check by Capital News ascertained that whereas teachers reported to work, few children turned up possibly unsure if classes would resume.  At the at the Moi Avenue Primary School Head teacher Eunice Mulati said that less than one hundred pupils out of 600 reported to school.

"The challenge will be how to recover the nine days we have lost but we will try our level best," she said adding that all teachers had reported for duty.

Most of the Pupils interviewed were excited to be back in class.

"I feel good now that we are in school," Paul Ayuku, a class seven pupil at the school said.

"We have lost nine days so we have to do much in the next two weeks," his classmate Allan Baranja added.
KNUT Secretary General Lawrence Majali called off the strike late on Thursday after signing an agreement with the government that will see the teachers get their pay in three phases over a two year period.

Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta said the first payment of Sh6.9 billion would start in July, but made a proviso to pay the second and third instalments at a go if the economy improves.

The payments are spread out on a 40-40-20 per cent basis.

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President Mwai Kibaki met with KNUT National Executive Committee members on Friday at his Harambee House office and gave an assurance that the Government would implement the salary increment as set out in the agreement.

The President said the government would allocate more resources to education from the national budget to ensure teachers are paid well as they play an important role in the promotion of education in the country.

"What we can afford to pay teachers we must pay because they (teachers) play a big role in educating the children of this nation," President Kibaki said.

KNUT Chairman George Wesonga and Mr Majali, who led the KNUT National Executive Committee delegation, thanked President Kibaki for helping to resolve the salary dispute between teachers and the Government.

The teachers boycotted classes on January 19 paralysing learning in over 19,000 schools and affecting over eight million children.

Pay talks stalled after the union insisted that teachers had to be paid Sh19.2 billion in one instalment, while the government said it could only afford Sh17.3 billion in three phases.

The Kenya Primary School Heads Association Chairman Joseph Karuga welcomed the move to call off the strike.

"The kind of the job we do is not only for money and I hope the teachers will understand that at least something has been gained.  Half a loaf is better than nothing," he said.

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