NAIROBI, Kenya Sep 20 – Private schools are divided following Friday’s government order to send children home over the ongoing strike by teachers in public schools.
While some private schools have already closed down, many more others have said they will remain open, heeding advice from the Kenya Private Schools Association.
The association’s Chairman Ernest Wangai says the government has no mandate to order closure of private schools because their teachers are not on strike.
Some of the schools so far closed include Makini, Maranda, Jonathan Gloag while others like Riara announced it will remain open pending official communication from the Education Ministry.
Wangai said the government should have consulted the private school heads before taking the unilateral decision as some of them have loans to pay off.
Teachers in public schools have been on strike since the beginning of September, vowing not to teach until the government implement a court order that awarded them between 50 and 60 per cent pay increase.
The crisis has escalated in the country, leading to Friday’s government order to have all public and private schools closed until the situation is resolved.
But several leaders, including former president Daniel arap Moi does not see this as the best approach for the crisis.
“Private schools should have continued to teach awaiting the court’s ruling,” he said of the order issued by the ministry of education with full backing from the cabinet that held a meeting on Friday, chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The government has said it opted to close the schools to enable it find a lasting solution to the crisis, even though the Kenya Private Schools Association has urged its members to ignore the government directive.
The former president is calling for sober dialogue to end the teachers strike crisis in the country.
Moi said teachers should have paused and reflected more deeply on President Uhuru Kenyatta’s declaration that there was no money to meet their demands because the continued strike is hurting the education sector.
“This approach should have been followed by sober and honest consultative discussions”, he said on Sunday at a church service held at the Kabarak chapel.
He said the teachers’ strike is a “national crisis and should neither be politicized nor given a sectarian outline”.
“The children of Kenya do not deserve such heartless treatment,” he said, adding that the “damage caused by the strike was not momentary and would impact negatively on the future development of Kenya.”