NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 26 – The government has directed public schools to re-open on Monday after the court ordered that the teachers strike be suspended for 90 days to create room for talks.
A notice from the Education Ministry sent to County Directors of Education said that all affected schools must extend their academic work for a week.
Under the new circular, all public schools will now close on November 20.
“Following the teachers’ strike over a pay dispute, the government ordered a revision of the term dates for all public and private schools with effect from 21st September 2015 with an indication that the said dates were to be released in due course,” the notice issued on Friday stated.
It indicated that all the remaining lost time will be recovered in the subsequent terms next year.
“In the circumstances and in line with the Basic Education Act 2013 section 95(3) (h), it has been decided as follows. All schools resume on Monday 28th September 2015 for standard 1 – 7 and forms 1 – 3 who were similarly affected.”
The directive follows an order by the Employment and Labour Relations court directing the suspension of the ongoing teachers strike for 90 days to pave way for negotiations with the government on the pay increase awarded to them.
While declining to declare the strike as unprotected, Justice Nelson Abuodha also directed that a committee involving stakeholders in the dispute should be formed with 30 days to find an amicable solution to the crisis.
He stated that should the parties fail to resolve the matter within the stipulated period, the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) will be at liberty to declare a trade dispute.
He also stressed the need for the government to respect court rulings and not to make pronouncements which might bring it into disrepute.
KNUT has accused the government of failing to honour a court order that awarded teachers between 50 and 60 per cent pay increase, which a subject of the new legal tussle.
The judge pointed out that the mass action was not beneficial to either of the parties and a speedy solution should be sought.
In his Friday ruling, the judge further ordered the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to pay teachers their September salary, following an earlier threat to withhold it due to the strike.
KNUT Secretary General Wilson Sossion said he will not call off the strike immediately, “because this is a matter we need to consult first. The strike remains on and there is no doubt about that.”
He is expected to give further directions to the teachers on Monday, following the court order, on whether they should go back to class.
The Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) welcomed the ruling but indicated that the declaration that they had a right to strike had legitimized the teachers’ cause.
Teachers have been on strike since the schools opened for the third term, hampering learning—a move that led to the government order to close public and private schools until further notice. Private schools are however, open after their union obtained a court order.