Wednesday, July 17, 2013

End teachers' strike "circus," say school heads

The chairman of the Kenya Primary Schools Heads of Teachers Association (KEPSHA) Joseph Karuga  speaks during the opening of a two-day workshop at the Nairobi Primary School July 17, 2013.  He said that school heads want teachers to resume classes as soon as possible. STEPHEN MUDIARI

The chairman of the Kenya Primary Schools Heads of Teachers Association (KEPSHA) Joseph Karuga speaks during the opening of a two-day workshop at the Nairobi Primary School July 17, 2013. He said that school heads want teachers to resume classes as soon as possible. STEPHEN MUDIARI  

By AGGREY MUTAMBO, amutambo@ke.nationmedia.com

Public primary school heads have demanded an end to the "circus of hard stances" from the government and the teacher's union to save the school calendar.

The Kenya Primary School Heads Association (KEPSHA) Wednesday warned it would be difficult to recover the time lost if the teachers’ strike is not solved and that it would be the children to suffer.

“The fight we are having is not assisting the learning and the time lost will not be gained,” chairman Joseph Karuga told reporters in Nairobi.

“These children are the people whose future we are talking about and if we continue interfering with it, the cost will be enormous.”

Teachers affiliated to the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) went on strike 23 days ago to demand housing, commuter and medical allowances related to a deal they signed in 1997 with the government.

So far, Knut has rejected two offers demanding an “improvement".

On Tuesday, the government announced it would sack teachers on strike.

KEPSHA wants the teachers to accept the offer, and ask for “its improvement” while in class.

"The government is saying it is open for further negotiation. The teachers are saying they want the offer improved. They are not denying they have not been offered anything.”

"We are saying let us utilise the window of children being at school, the union getting what is on the table and dialogue resumes as the children continue learning.”

Standoff affected school programme

On Tuesday, KEPSHA complained that the standoff has affected school programmes.

“The climate right now is not good for school programmes. We have had music competitions and athletic competitions which have been taking place in unusual circumstances. The teachers and head teachers have done so under strain.”

“The children who are facing exams this year, lost some time last year during another strike, they lost another ten days during elections and now they have missed out on four weeks. That is a problem we cannot wish away.”

Mr Karuga said his association was ready to mediate in the standoff arguing that it is the school heads and children who will feel the pain of not completing the syllabus on time.

“How do we deliver the curriculum load without overburdening the child so that the child can be prepared for exams? We would wish that a solution is found as fast as possible.”

“As professionals, we have been treated to a circus of standoffs whereby we don’t even have the documents as to what has been negotiated. “We are an arbitrator but we can’t arbitrate without facts.”

KEPSHA is expected to meet with their secondary school counterparts (KESSHA) on Friday before “we declare our final stand” on the teacher’s strike.

The two associations have about 30,000 members drawn from public schools in the country.

advertisement