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Schools re-open, but teachers on strike

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 4 – The scheduled re-opening of public schools on Monday is in jeopardy as the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) is still insistent that teachers will proceed on strike starting Monday.

KNUT’s National Executive Committee will meet on Tuesday to formally announce the strike.

Union Secretary General David Okuta told Capital News on phone that despite the invitation for talks on Monday by the Ministry of Labour, the teachers union will not give in unless more teachers are employed.

Mr Okuta termed the efforts by the Ministry of Labor as ‘half hearted efforts’ that will not kill the resolve of teachers.

“We (KNUT) will attend the meeting together with the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) but we do not see the government giving money through the labour ministry. Teachers start the strike tomorrow (Monday) after the notice given by KNUT expires,” said Okuta.

“The strike will go on for as long as the government remains insensitive to the plight of teachers,” he added.

Mr Okuta reaffirmed that there was a shortage of 79,000 teachers and that the education standards in public schools were on the downward. He said that the teachers union feels cheated that the government hived off Sh 5.5 billion from the budget, which was meant to recruit at least 28,000 teachers on permanent basis.

“Public schools lack adequate teachers, and the quality of education is so low; the government cheated us that teachers will be employed and even the budget committee passed the specific recommendation. Now that the money has not been allocated we are left wondering what happening,” he wondered.
Members of Parliament on Tuesday approved Sh374.34 billion for recurrent and development expenditure of 66 state institutions for the period ending June 30, 2012 with the Sh5.5 billion for the recruitment of teachers reallocated.

Teachers spent a better part of Tuesday morning outside Parliament buildings petitioning Members of Parliament to support their bid to get 1,800 teachers who are currently on contract absorbed on permanent basis and an additional 10,000 recruits next year.

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They occasionally blocked mps from accessing parliament buildings in their official vehicles until they got addressed, even police presence did little in watering down the resolve by teachers to make themselves pronounced in the issue.

Even as parents engage in last minute preparations before the opening of schools, not much will go on as teachers are poised to stay away from the classrooms.

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