Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Learning disrupted as teachers' strike begins

A deserted class at Moi Avenue Primary School, Nairobi as the teachers' strike took effect June 25, 2013 ANTHONY OMUYA

A deserted class at Moi Avenue Primary School, Nairobi as the teachers' strike took effect June 25, 2013 ANTHONY OMUYA  

By NATION Team

Learning has been disrupted in schools countrywide as the teachers' strike started Tuesday.

In Nairobi, teachers stayed away from classrooms as the strike called by the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) took effect. There was no learning at Moi Avenue Primary School with most classes deserted.

On Tuesday, Knut ruled out further negotiations with government saying it was only interested in the full implementation of the salary deal.

"All we want is money. We are now tired of these endless meeting," said Knut secretary general Xavier Nyamu.

Knut's position comes a few hours to a meeting scheduled between the union, the Ministry of Education and the Teachers Service Commission.

Knut’s rival union, the Kenya Post-Primary Education Teachers Union (Kuppet), through its chairman Omboko Milemba, confirmed that it will attend the meeting at 2pm.

Learning in public schools in Nakuru, Laikipia, Nyandarua and Narok was paralysed after teachers heeded the call by their union to go on strike.

Pupils reported in the morning as usual only to be told to go back home by their respective head teachers.

In western Kenya, learning in most primary schools in Bungoma County was also disrupted.

At Moi Primary School in Bungoma town, there were no teachers in school. Pupils mostly in class 8 were studying on their own while those from junior classes whiled away time in the playground.

In Eldoret town, Uasin Gishu County, children in most schools were in the field playing football or conversing in groups. A spot check at Kapsoya Primary School showed that no classes were going on.

At Kabarnet High School in Baringo County, there was no learning as teachers heeded to calls by Kuppet to boycott teaching.

A similar scenario was witnessed in all Nandi, Elgeyo-Marakwet, Trans Nzoia and West Pokot Counties in the north rift region.

On Monday, Knut dismissed calls for dialogue by President Kenyatta. In a meeting convened by its national executive council, the union declared a national strike to demand the government honours a 1997 pay agreement.

Knut said it resolved to go on strike because its members cannot “eat dialogue”.  It also ruled out any further negotiations.

Wilson Sossion, the union’s national chairman, accused the government of playing politics on the matter as it was bound by Legal Notice 534 of 1997.

The legal notice tasked the government to increase teachers’ hardship, special, house, medical and commuter allowances.

“We have assessed the behaviour of the government and discovered they are using primitive divide-and-rule method. It will not work,” he said.

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