The Kenya National Union of teachers (Knut) has decided to stick to their demands of downing their tools starting from 3rd September when schools re-open.
The teachers are depending on an agreement that was reached between the government and teachers five years ago in which they were promised higher salaries and allowances over a 10-year period, and to them, these agreement has never been implemented.
The umbrella workers union, Central Organisation of Trade Unions Kenya (COTU) has thrown its weight behind the planned teachers’ strike, with the secretary Francis Atwoli saying he supported the strike since teachers are a fundamental part of the country’s economy and development since they shaped and trained future leader. I could not agree with Francis Atwoli more.
This move by the teachers now puts the government, especially the education minister Mutula Kilonzo on a tight spot. Atwoli has called on the government to act fast to come up with an agreeable solution to avert this strike. If the same government delays to dialogue with the teachers then come the said election date, the people to suffer are students in public schools.
Already, the government has banned tuition holiday in schools where the teachers say most students were benefiting from. Most of these students are now at home and will be resuming classes on the said date the teachers will be downing their tools. The government has therefore a very short time to avert the strike.
Our country’s education system has so many loopholes that have to be fixed. These loopholes are the contributing factors to such strikes. Even as teachers demand for a 300% pay rise, they should realise that they have a responsibility to play to ensure they provide quality education to students. KNUT was so much opposed to the banning of holiday tuition, what they never realised is that school head teachers and principals had turned it into a money making venture. My little sister for example in a school in western Kenya were asked to pay Kshs. 3,000 for the tuition which goes for three weeks, while the third term school fees is kshs. 4,000. This is so unrealistic.
So, even as they plan to down their tools, these teachers should know that we are watching them as a country. Come the next national exams, we want to see public schools performing better than public schools.
Nixon Kanali, Nairobi