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Parents in Kenya agonize as teacher's strike bites

09 September 2015, 20:39

Nairobi - Parents in Kenya are agonizing as a strike by teachers demanding salary increase enters a second week, leaving the students at home.

The teachers are asking a pay increase of between 50 to 60 percent, a demand dismissed by the government with the excuse of "lack of money".

The teachers have said they will not return to class unless their demand met.

The stalemate has led to the closure of over 36,000 primary and secondary schools across the East African nation, with about 12 million students staying at home.

While some of the students are happy they have an extension to their August holiday, their parents are worried.

Also read: 5,000 teachers set for sack, TSC announces

"I do not know what to with my two girls. They went to school on Aug. 31, but returned two days later after teachers failed to turn up at school. They are now at home idling, which is not a good thing for them," said Claire Were, who lives in the suburb of the capital Nairobi.

Just like Were, millions of other parents in Kenya go to work every day, and their children at home unattended.

While Were believes her children are well-mannered, she worries the "idle time" could bring negative influence to them.

"I try to assign them duties to keep them busy, but I cannot say I know exactly what they do with their time. The other day I found several movie DVDs at home and they could not explain where they had come from," said Were.

Journalist Stephen Ngunjiri, whose son is in secondary school, has similar worries. The boy returned home one day after the school reopened.

"He spends most of his time watching TV and listening to music, activities that I am opposed to, but I have no control over him after I leave home for work," said Ngunjiri.

However, the teachers seem not have the intention of backing down.

"If parents fear for their children when they stay at home, then the government should appreciate teachers' work and pay us the salaries we are demanding. Teachers play a crucial role in moulding the students, but we are not appreciated," said Alfred Muhambe, a teacher in west Kenya.

The Kenya National Parents Association on Tuesday threatened to sue the government over the teachers' strike.

The chair of the association, Nathan Barasa, said the strike has denied the children's rights to education and caused agony for parents.


- Xinhua


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