, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 6 – Learning in all public schools across the country has been paralysed after the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) gave the go ahead for teachers to down their tools until their demands are met by the government.
The strike comes at a time when students are preparing for their Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations and may undermine their studies and create unnecessary panic.
Speaking after a National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting at the union’s headquarters on Tuesday morning, Secretary General Okuta Osiany affirmed that they would not enter into any negotiations with the government until more teachers were employed on a permanent basis.
“The strike action by the teachers of Kenya will continue until the government has employed the 28,000 teachers. It will continue until the government has provided money to promote teachers on an annual basis,” he stated.
He emphasised the need for teachers to be given annual pay hikes and promotions in recognition for their hard work and the important role they play in students’ lives.
He also said they want an additional 23,000 teachers employed on a permanent basis in Early Childhood Education by the government.
“It (strike) will continue until the government employs the 23,000 Early Childhood Education teachers. We are aware that the government requested for one week to look for money to do the same and we are saying that we recognise that so let them work very fast within this week to get the money but the strike continues,” he said.
Mr Okuta however pointed out that they have instructed their members to ensure a peaceful strike.
“I want the teachers of this country to assemble at KNUT offices and chart the way forward countrywide. On Fridays, they will have to constitute their own churches and pray for this country,” he stated.
The strike has seen learning in most public schools countrywide paralysed.
In Nairobi, most teachers reported to work in the morning but vowed not to teach until the government agreed to employ more teachers.
In Nyanza province, teachers heeded the directive and kept off classes in solidarity with their counterparts countrywide.
A spot check in most schools there showed that pupils remained unattended.
In the Coast province, learning continued to be affected for the second day running after pupils and students failed to show up in class.
A survey shows that teaching was not going on in both primary and secondary schools after teachers boycotted classes.
Teachers converged at Mombasa Treasury Square and vowed not to return to work until the government meets their demand.
The situation was the same in Rift Valley, Eastern and Central with teachers reporting to work but staying away from classrooms.
A section of parents who talked to Capital News decried the government’s insensitivity towards the needs of the pupils, but at the same time appealed for a truce between KNUT and the government to resolve the matter.
KNUT together with its rival union KUPPET had indicated that the Sh5.5 billion pledged to hire the 28,000 teachers was insufficient for the exercise, and that an extra Sh1.9 billion was needed.
According to KNUT, the free primary education has increased class sizes to an extent that learning in most public schools has been severely impaired due to the huge imbalance in teacher-student ratios.
The initial plan to hire 18,060 teachers on permanent terms, and another 9,040 on a temporary basis was a short-term effort that would have gone a long way in reducing the pressures in public schools.
The teacher shortage is estimated to be over 70,000.
The Parliamentary Budget Committee however opted to reverse the decision by denying the Ministry of Education the funds needed for the exercise and instead to re-allocate the money to help MPs clear their tax backlog.