NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 4 – Education Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi has allayed fears that the upcoming national exams will be interrupted by the ongoing teachers’ strike which entered its fifth day Friday.
Addressing journalists following concerns that the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exams which are set to begin in November would be delayed, Kaimenyi said all necessary measures within the law would be employed to ensure that the exams were administered as planned.
“We shall do whatever is within our powers to ensure the examinations are conducted; we do not work in isolation. This is not the first time examinations have been conducted in this country under these circumstances,” said Kaimenyi.
He urged teachers to consider the plight of the innocent students who needed to adequately prepare for the exams to resume teaching as per the directive of the Teachers Service Commission even as they awaited the courts adjudication of the pay dispute.
“We wish to appeal to teachers that even as they fight for their rights because it is their right to ask even for more salaries and better working conditions, it is important to remember that learners and parents too have their rights; the rights of teachers are not absolute and they need to embrace dialogue,” he added.
He further warned teachers against participating in the strike initiated by their unions terming it illegal since the commission had yet to receive a strike notice as required under section 76 of the Labour Relations Act 2007.
He called on parents to take their children to school assuring them of their safety as they were working with various stakeholders to ensure security was enhanced so that learning that is not interrupted.
“We are working with other State agencies, the Interior Ministry and the county security committees to ensure the security and safety of the learners, staff and property,” he asserted.
He pointed out that the commission had received complaints from teachers and head teachers who were being intimidated by certain individuals for teaching students saying anyone found would face the full force of the law.
Kaimenyi dismissed statements by the teachers unions accusing him of highhandedness, saying the decisions he made were borne out of a consultative process and that he was ready to work with anyone.
“I am not the problem, and to assume Kaimenyi is the problem is to I operate in isolation. But we have been working as a team and there have been wide consultations over the issues,” insisted Kaimenyi.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court declined to give a stay order to the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to stop the payment of a salary increment awarded to teachers pending the hearing of an application contesting it.
Supreme Court Judge Jackton Ojwang’ directed the parties to return to court next week Tuesday when the hearing date of the application will be set.
The government has insisted it has no funds to effect the 50-60 percent pay rise with Treasury Cabinet secretary Henry Rotich urging teachers to go back to class and await the completion of the process of reviewing salaries of all public servants.
As of now only students in private institutions have resumed classes since the commencement of the crucial third term, while those in most public schools have not.