, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 24 – The High Court has extended orders keeping private schools open until the suit challenging their closure by government is heard and determined.
In the petition which was before Justice Mumbi Ngugi, the Commission on Administrative justice was also enjoined after they expressed interest in the matter.
The Ministry of Education had closed both Public and Private Schools following the ongoing nationwide teachers’ strike and defended its decision stating that it was for the safety of the children in both public and private schools.
“The fact of the matter is that teachers were on strike and children would not be in school unattended. Teachers in a significant number of schools had boycotted teaching. After monitoring the impact of the dispute for over the previous three weeks from the start of this school term on 31st August, 2015, it is evident that a large number of public school going children and other learners in our institutions staffed with TSC teachers had gone largely untaught,” a statement from the Ministry stated.
In the statement, the ministry pointed out that the closure was not in any way aimed at undermining the institution of the private schools system.
“The ensuing failure to teach resulted in restlessness of students; in some cases tension had built up among learners, who had been left idle under the care of very few teachers. Some incidences of insecurity in schools had been reported by Heads of Institutions and Field Officers during the said period. Some students drowned in a dam while on a swimming expedition,” it pointed out.
According to the Ministry, the revision of the term dates for Primary and Secondary Schools had been necessitated by the fact that very little or no teaching and learning had been going on in most of the public education institutions.
“The Ministry accordingly revised the term dates to safeguard the security of the learners, staff and school property, and thus address the concerns of parents and other key stakeholders in education. The students were better off in the care and security of their parents and guardians pending resolution of the staff off. When two elephants are quarreling, a Vietnamese Proverb goes, ants should step aside,” it indicated.
It pointed out that the State entrusts the guardianship and care of children to teachers on the assumption that they will teach and facilitate learning of the prescribed curriculum according to plan.
It stated that the striking teachers not only stopped teaching, but also withdrew the care and safety that parents, through the auspices of the government, confer on them.
“The Ministry of Education provides that a school calendar operates for pre-determined days or structured instructional hours determined by the Quality Assurance and standards system it has established with the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) and other key stakeholders. It has accordingly developed minimum structured learning time which all students are individually exposed to guarantee the Desired Outcomes of Education (DOE) at every level of education tier,” it stated.
The Ministry acknowledged that the pay dispute concerns teachers under the employment of the Teachers Service Commission and government/employer and expressed awareness that teaching and learning went on smoothly in private primary and secondary schools.
“The Government recognises the role owners of Private Schools play in complementing government in providing education services to Kenyans. It is deeply indebted to this partnership in addressing the problems of access, equity, quality in the provisions of education services. The extension of the revision of the Term Dates to private schools was, therefore, not in any way aimed at undermining the institution of the private schools system,” it said.
It explained that as a solution to the current impasse was being sort, the priority lay in placing the safety of learners in the hands of their parents and guardians.