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.
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"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
"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.