Broke and idle, teachers getting fatigued by strike
01 October 2015, 08:24
Nairobi - As the teachers' strike, now in its fifth week, stretches on, tutors are getting fatigued by the industrial action.
The teachers, who have been on strike since the beginning of the month are idle and broke, with the standoff seemingly yielding little fruit.
Both the government and the teachers, through their unions, have maintained hard line positions.
While teachers, who were awarded a 50 to 60 percent pay rise by the Industrial Court, want the deal implemented before they return to class, the government, through the Teachers Service Commission (TSC), have maintained they have no money to pay.
The two antagonists, teachers represented by the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) and Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET), and the TSC have dragged each other to court as over the 12 million learners in the nation's public schools watch from the sidelines.
The unending battle has taken a toll on a good number of teachers, leading to the fatigue.
"I am now tired with this strike that seems to be turning against us. My thinking was that the government would give into our demands by the second week because of this is an examination term but their tough stance is hurting us," Stephen Muhambe, a primary school teacher in western Kenya lamented on Tuesday.
Muhambe is broke, and the prospects of him missing his September salary are high, and they are eating him up.
"I have no idea where I will get money to feed my family of four and cater for my other needs if the TSC does not pay us this month," he said.
Worse still, idleness is killing him. As many of the 280,000 teachers in the nation, the 35-year-old wakes up every morning, takes breakfast and heads to the trading centre at the newspaper seller's stand.
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There, he meets his colleagues and they read all the Kenyan dailies at a small fee. Thereafter, Muhambe and five other teachers engage in banter until about 1 p.m. local time when they go back home.
This has been his routine for almost five weeks now during the period of the strike and he has become tired of it.
"Going to school every day always helps to push time because one is busy. Now I wake up, idle and go back home. It is a torturous routine," he said.
In Nairobi, the strike is having the same effect on teachers, with Fidelma Mutua, a secondary school tutor, on the east of Nairobi praying that it ends soon.
"I am tired and tired and tired. This strike has taken too long that it hurts. I want to go back to school and teach as long as the government raises our pay even by 5 percent."
Mutua, as many other teachers in the East African nation, had not expected that the strike would stretch into the sixth week, as the prospects seem.
"I would have found something to do, perhaps even start a business or find students to coach." And what hurts her most is that students and teachers in private schools are carrying on with their business.
Henry Wandera, an economics lecturer in Nairobi, noted that the government is stretching teachers to the limit so that they can give up.
"It is a tactic that has worked well elsewhere. What the government wants is to let the teachers feel the pinch of their actions and perhaps start thinking that their unions are misleading them," he said.
Once the fatigue gets a toll on teachers and the strike is not boring fruit as things stand right now, according to Wandera, the tutors may turn against their union leaders.
The teachers would feel the nasty effects of the strike, according to the lecturer, end of this month when TSC withholds their salaries.
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