, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 26 – The Senate interrupted normal House business on Wednesday to demand that the government honours the 1997 pay agreement it signed with the teachers’ union.
The on-going teachers’ strike which has paralysed learning in public schools countrywide enters its third day on Thursday.
The Motion which was introduced by Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale called for the suspension of the laptop project for class one pupils, because the country has much bigger issues to handle in the education sector.
Khalwale kicked off the debate by saying; “This laptops for class one kids can wait. We’ve far much bigger issues in the education sector than laptops for toddlers.”
Machakos County Senator Johnson Muthama and Homa Bay Senator Otieno Kajwang’ said Labour Secretary Kazungu Kambi made a serious mistake in declaring the government was not obligated to implement the agreement which the Kenya National Union of Teachers signed with the Teachers’ Service Commission in 1997.
The Senate was left in stitches when Muthama cautioned teachers against negotiating with a government of ‘fraudsters.’
“I would like to tell the teachers to ignore to those who are telling them to talk to this government of liars and deceivers.”
“An agreement that Jomo Kenyatta signed with Russians is still being honoured, yet this government says it cannot honour an agreement…” said Muthama when asked to substantiate his comments by Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko and Nominated Senator Beth Mugo.
Muthama concluded his contribution by suggesting that the President order all government vehicles be grounded for a month and fuel money diverted to pay teachers.
“Never say that a government has promised something but that it was a KANU government. In fact, when the KANU government was making that law, the current president and deputy president were in KANU, so what the KANU government promised the government must pay; even if they are just donning different clothes,” said Kajwang’ who started his remarks with his bado mapambano (the struggle continues) chant.
Siaya Senator James Orengo reminded the House how politicians are always falling over each other into to get a chance to attend and address the annual teachers’ conference where they make all sorts of promises which are pegged on the 1997 agreement.
“Hypocrites are the swines of civilisation, because if you remember what teachers do to our families and communities… what teachers do is not just teach our children in the classroom” said Orengo on the government’s refusal to pay the teachers.
Orengo and Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula who seconded the motion reprimanded Kambi arguing that he has no respect for the rule of law.
“We are going to judge the Jubilee Coalition government on this single issue of teachers. They will not run away from it,” said Orengo. “You cannot give laptops if the people who are supposed to give instructions are not happy.”
“I first came to Parliament in 1993 when the pay of an MP was Sh22,000 and the allowance was Sh9,000. Today MPs earn Sh851,000. I am a son of a teacher…Yet the salaries that they earn are almost the same ones that my father used to earn,” Wetangula told the House.
“The height of populism is to promise laptops for standard one kids when you have a problem of teachers on your hands,” said Wetangula.
Jubilee Coalition senators Kiraitu Murungi, Mike Sonko and John Lonyangapuo called for dialogue between the teachers’ union and the government.
“We cannot expect to improve the education standards of this country with underpaid, overworked and frustrated teachers,” said Murungi.