NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 5 – Learning was paralysed in public schools Monday after teachers proceeded with their planned strike across the country over remuneration issues.
When the Capital FM News crew visited public schools in Nairobi, pupils were heading back home after they found their absent and classrooms shut.
Kilimani Primary School head teacher Gideon Wasike says class one and any other new admissions which were to start on Tuesday would have to be postponed until the matter is resolved.
“The parents came with their children and went back with them… the teachers reported and later on went to join their colleagues,” he stated.
He said the strike, “may cause a delay in covering of the syllabus. You all know an hour lost cannot be recovered.”
The situation was the same in Milimani Primary School where students were seen playing in the school compound with hope that the strike will end and resume their studies.
Some however were seen revising on their own to quench the education thirst after a long holiday.
Teachers who were present and spoke on condition of anonymity in various schools said they were in solidarity with the strike move until the matter has been fully dealt with by their respective unions.
“I am already armed with my whistle in case we are called for a protest in the streets; I will be there,” one of the teachers said.
Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) branch executive Secretary in Laikipia County Daniel Ndung’u directed teachers not to report to school until the strike is called off by union chiefs.
“The systems are already rolling out and everybody is ready. No teacher has actually and is ready to report to work,” he stated. “We have told them (teachers) not to be intimidated by any education official.”
The situation was the same in Nyandarua County.
KUPPET and the Kenya National Union of Teachers said no teacher would resume duty unless advised otherwise warning that parents should take their children to school at their own peril.
Ndung’u further that several groups have been deployed in Ol-Moran, Nanyuki, Nyahururu, Kinamba and Dol Dol to monitor the strike adding that teachers would not bow down to threats.
A section of parents who spoke to Capital FM News urged the government to move with speed in resolving the outstanding issues to avoid delay in coverage of syllabus which may impact negatively on pupils’ performance.
“We call for dialogue so that our children can learn… striking should not be the only option for teachers to air their grievances,” Titus Ambei a parent in Kilimani Primary School said.
Another one blamed the government for failing to avert the strike saying, “These issues have been there for long. They need to pay the teachers well so that our children can have quality education.”
On Monday, KNUT and KUPPET told parents not to bother taking their children to school on Monday as their members will not report for duty.
But in contradiction, the government has urged parents to go ahead and ensure their children report for school on Monday as per the school calendar.
“The commission has been served with a court order dated January 2 which has placed an injunction on the strike called by the unions. Teachers are therefore advised to report to their respective duty in compliance with the court order,” the newly appointed Teachers Service Commission (TSC) chair, Lydia Nzomo, stated on Saturday following their failed attempt to return teachers to the negotiating table and avert a strike.
TSC has now set January 9 as the next date for another round of talks and despite snubbing Saturday’s meeting, KNUT on Sunday said it was, “open to fruitful negotiations. Negotiations in good faith; negotiations without restraint and mischief.”
But talks, the union’s executives explained, could not go on indefinitely and they categorically stated that they would only return to the negotiating table once TSC was ready to review their basic pay.
“The direct attitude of the government to reject any award on basic pay is contrary to the tradition of trade unionism negotiations,” a statement released by KNUT on Sunday read.
Sentiments that are similar to those expressed by KUPPET on Saturday when they walked out of the last ditch effort talks with TSC.