, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 2 – Learning in public schools throughout the country remained paralysed on Tuesday morning as teachers defied a court order to return to work.
Public schools in Nairobi, Kisumu, and Nyahururu among others were deserted as teachers mobilised for demonstrations.
“People say KNUT (Kenya National Union of Teachers) and KUPPET (Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers) are divided but here in Nyahururu we are united and call on private school teachers to join us,” a teacher from Nyahururu told Capital FM News.
The teachers have gone on with their strike, which is in its second week, despite a warning from Attorney General Githu Muigai that they risk imprisonment and penalties should they remain out of the classroom.
“It is totally unacceptable that litigants before any court or tribunal can choose what orders to obey and which ones not to obey. Any person guilty of the disobedience of court orders shall be met with the full force of the law,” Muigai said on Monday only hours after Industrial Court Judge Linnet Ndolo instructed the teachers to be at their work stations by 8am on Tuesday morning as their demands are negotiated.
KNUT Chairman Wilson Sossion has however maintained that they are not cowed by the threat of imprisonment or penalties and will continue their strike until the Sh47 billion owed to them is paid.
“Why should we fear? It is not like it will be the first time our teachers will be arrested for fighting for their rights. As I said yesterday, not even the President can call off this strike. No nation ever won its freedom by falling in line,” Sossion told Capital FM News on Tuesday morning.
KUPPET has however declined to commit itself one way or another with the National Chairman Milema Omboko saying they will have to convene a National Governing Council (NGC) meeting before giving their stand.
“We are holding a NGC meeting this morning then we will call for a media briefing so we can tell our members where we go from here,” Omboko told Capital FM News on Tuesday morning.
The government has continued to call the unions to the negotiating table but Deputy President William Ruto has ruled out the possibility of paying the full Sh47 billion KNUT has demanded in this financial year.
“When the leaders of teachers tell the country that there is Sh53 billion this year in the budget for the laptop project, the truth of the matter is that we only have Sh15 billion for the laptop project in the budget this year. How would you translate Sh15 billion today to Sh47 billion?” Ruto posed at press briefing on Monday evening.
The Kenya National Association of Parents has also weighed in on the stand off with their Secretary General Musau Ndunda calling on the government to pay teachers their dues: “How many times must our teachers be forced to march up and down the streets before they are treated fairly? Let the government pay them in full so our children will not have to worry about another strike.”