NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 3 – Teachers in Nairobi demonstrated in the Central Business District (CBD) as the nationwide strike over poor working conditions commenced on Monday.
The teachers declared that they would boycott classes until the government fulfils an existing deal for increased allowances and commences negotiations for a fresh demand of a 300 percent pay increase.
“Teachers have come out so that they can demand from the implementation of the legal notice 534 of 1997 and they have also come out to ask for a salary increment of 300 percent. There is no school that is working,” The Executive Secretary of the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) Hezbon Otieno stated.
The 1997 pay deal involved increased basic salaries for all cadres of teachers as well as higher allowances. The final instalment of the pay rise was paid out in 2009, but the allowances are yet to be completed as agreed.
“Teachers are tired of being cheated by the same government that they are serving and that is why they are saying that they will only go back to work if they are given what is rightfully theirs,” Otieno declared.
The Kenya National Association of Parents (KNAP) has in the meantime urged teachers to use other legal means to settle their grievances rather than subjecting innocent students to the effects of their strike.
Secretary General Musau Ndunda said this will strengthen their case and produce results for the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) and the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET).
“One of the best options that will also make their case very strong is for them to go to court,” he stated.
“TSC (Teachers Service Commission) filed a case last week and they got an order and they are supposed to also have an inter-partes hearing tomorrow (Tuesday). KNUT and KUPPET must also use that as an avenue where they can go to court and push these people to enter into dialogue,” he argued.
Ndunda raised concern that parents and innocent children were the ones bearing the brunt of the strike, yet they are not party to the deal.
“Let them not use the method that they are using of punishing students because as parents we are also very concerned because disruption of learning may affect them negatively.”
A spot check by Capital FM News established that the strike was felt in most parts of the country, including Nairobi, Mombasa, and Kisumu among other towns.
“I came to school in the morning but did not find any teacher. We were then told to get out of class and go home,” A student at the Buru Buru Primary school said.
“We are candidates in class eight and now that the strike is on, it might affect our performance since no one is teaching us,” said another pupil.
In Kisumu, several schools remained deserted as no teachers turned up.
A teacher at Kisumu Girls High School who declined to be named told Capital FM News that a majority of teachers did not report to work.
The teachers have vowed not to go to class until ordered to do so by their union officials.
In Mombasa, students in public institutions were sent home when they reported for classes. Thousands of teachers converged at the local KNUT offices on Jomo Kenyatta Avenue where they vowed not to go to classrooms until their grievances were met.
“The government needs to ensure a speedy end to this impasse,” a teacher told Capital FM News.
The strike has not affected students and pupils in private schools.