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Kenyan pupils back to school after month-long teachers strike

06 October 2015, 21:36

Nairobi - Kenya's pupils returned to schools on Monday after a over one-month-long teachers' strike ended.

The students said they were happy to be back to school after idling at home for 34 days during which the teachers battled the government for a 50 to 60 percent pay rise ordered by the court.

However, the dispute that was fought in courts, on the streets and in boardrooms remains unresolved, and the teachers have vowed to strike again if a solution with the government is not reached.

"We have only suspended our strike for 90 days as ordered by the court, but we will still activate it if the government does not honour the order to implement the pay rise," said Wilson Sossion, the secretary general of the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) as he called off the strike Saturday.

The students hoped the dispute could be resolved within the 90 days so that they would not stay at home again.

Also read: Nairobi's thugs device new method to steal from motorists

"We suffered greatly as we stayed at home during the period of the strike. I do not want to stay at home again. I want to remain in school and learn so that I can become a doctor in future," said Josephine, a pupil at Komarock Primary School in the capital Nairobi.

On Monday morning, students at the school were busy cleaning the institution under the guidance of their teachers before starting classes. Some swept the compound and others the classrooms as they chatted animatedly.

At the Catholic Parochial Primary School in the city center of Nairobi, pupils could be seen running up and down on the campus again after a five-week quietness.

The students went to parade at about 7:30 a.m. local time, sang the national anthem, prayed and heard their teachers outline their expectation for the delayed new term.

It was a ritual repeated at all the over 36,000 schools in the East African nation, both private and public.

"My favourite subject is math. I am happy to go back to school so that I can learn it. While at home, I was studying alone, thus, could not get help whenever I heard difficulties, but in school, my teacher will guide me," said Patrick Otieno, a pupil in Western Kenya who is to sit for his primary school exit exam starting later this month.

Otieno expressed confidence in the exam Sunday as he travelled back to school.

But for many teachers, even they resumed lessons, complaints remain as their employer, the Teachers Service Commission (TSC), withheld their September salaries.

"TSC needs to pay our salaries. We have obeyed the court order to return to class as we hope the dispute will be settled. TSC should pay us so that we can execute our duties efficiently," said Stephen Muhambe, a teacher in western Kenya.

Some analysts say the teachers are being seriously hurt by the government denial of their pay rise.

"The decision hurt many teachers, over 90 percent who rely on their salaries to feed and clothe their families," said Henry Wandera, an economics lecturer.


- Xinhua

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