, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 21 – The government will postpone the forthcoming national examinations and extend the third term by three weeks owing to the ongoing teachers’ strike.
Education Minister Mutula Kilonzo told Capital FM News on Friday that he would release a circular on Monday extending the term in addition to the postponement of national exams, scheduled to kick off in October.
He added that the extension would also cover private students, who were unaffected by the industrial action, so as to get back the learning time lost.
“There is only one education policy and we cannot run parallel education curricula. All children belong to Mutula and they all wear ‘ka-mutulas’ and all these has been generated by the strike,” he explained.
“Students in private schools will also have to adopt to these changes because there is no separate education curriculum for them,” he argued.
He added that he had sent a letter to Parliament to list the Education Bill on Tuesday’s order paper. This Bill seeks to harmonise reforms in the education sector.
“I have taken advantage of the strike to ensure that this Bill is forwarded to Parliament as soon as possible so that it can spearhead reforms in the education department,” he explained.
Kilonzo had earlier directed teachers to go back to class by Monday or face the sack.
He insisted that teachers should take the government’s offer of a phased out pay deal starting with a Sh4.5 billion tranche, as opposed to the Sh13.5 billion that they were immediately demanding.
“They have to go back to class by Monday. If I had the money I would have paid them and you remember I demanded for this money even before they went on strike,” he argued.
Public Service Minister Dalmas Otieno added that the government had agreed to give teachers a pay hike which would be backdated to July, this year, and would be reflected in their October salary.
Otieno, who was speaking during a session with the parliamentary committee on education on Friday, explained that the second phase of the pay deal would be effected in their January 2013 salary while the third would be reflected in their July 2013 salary.
“I can say that backdated awards of Sh4.5 billion for the four months of July, August, September and October can be processed through Parliament and made payable with the October salary,” he explained.
However the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers refused to call off their industrial action saying it must first analyse the deal.
“We are internalising what proposals the government has made in light of backdating this payment in the October pay,” argued KUPPET Secretary General Akelo Misori.
The Kenya National Union of Teachers also insisted on getting a clear date and structure for their new pay.
“Is it possible for us to have a proper, specific date and offer that is acceptable? Let us not treat this strike as if it is not an emergency,” said a KNUT representative.
Otieno also observed that the government could not release Sh13.5 billion at one go because it was already witnessing a Sh40 billion deficit in its national budget.
He added that the Appropriation Act and the supplementary estimates must be approved before the monies are released.
Meanwhile, two Members of Parliament criticised the government for threatening the teachers with sacking saying it was an abuse of their human rights.
Rangwe MP Martin Ogindo urged the government to tax landlords and commercial sex workers to raise revenue that could be used to pay civil servants.
“Instead of dismissing the workers he should try to raise more revenue and there are areas which are fertile just waiting for him to tap for instance the enforcement of the landlords’ taxes and the unpopular taxation of prostitutes,” he argued.
“They are ready to pay but they lack a framework and the trade is there to stay so we better make the best out of it,” he stressed.
Newly elected Ndhiwa MP Agostinho Neto asked the government to provide practical solutions to the stalemate while criticising plans to change the school timetable to cover the strike.