Striking Kenyan teachers ignore court order, keep off schools
29 September 2015, 21:45
Nairobi - Uncertainty and confusion gripped public schools students in Kenya on Monday as striking teachers kept off their places of work despite the court ordering them last Friday to resume work immediately.
The order paved way for the government to announce that all schools, primary and secondary, would reopen Monday, a week after they were officially closed.
In the court ruling, Justice Nelson Abuodha of the labor relations court suspended the teachers' strike for 90 days and asked the instructors and their employer to reach an amicable solution to the stalemate to save the Kenyan child.
However, in what shows that the month-long labour dispute would not end soon, defiant teachers stayed away from school, saying they are "analyzing" the ruling.
The move has dashed hope for learners in the East African nation, who have stayed home since the beginning of the month. It also puts a damper on those in Form Four who are starting their exit practical exams today.
Led by their union bosses, the teachers said they will not return to school until the Teachers Service Commission withdraws a case it has filed at the Court of Appeal challenging the 50-60 percent pay rise awarded to the instructors.
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"Teachers for now are still on strike as we analyze the court ruling by our lawyers. The strike is not about to end as long as the government declines to withdraw the appeal at the Industrial Court," said Kenya National Union of Teachers secretary-general Wilson Sossion Sunday.
A spot check on Monday showed that students stayed at home following the pronouncement by the teachers' union officials that the strike was still on.
Monstrous silence engulfed many learning institution in the capital, Nairobi. At Komarock Primary School on the east of Nairobi, which hosts over 700 pupils, there was no activity.
Classes remained closed with a handful of students in home clothes seen standing at the gate of the school, perhaps assessing the situation.
A similar scenario greeted St. Peters Clavers Primary School in the city centre. The institution remained closed with no pupils in sight.
Things were not any different at the Catholic Parochial Primary School, also in the city center, where classes' doors remained shut as students stayed away.
Parents said they could not allow their children to go to school as long as teachers remained at home.
"Who will take care of them? Teachers play a crucial role and they are in charge of the learners while they are in school. I do not want to release my three children to go to school and then they end up wandering in town because there are no teachers," said Josephine Ambune, a parent at a church-run institution.
For Caroline Akoth, whose Form Three daughter schools in Nyanza, it would be foolhardy to release her girl to travel to school by the mere order from the government.
"At the beginning of this month, she travelled to school and returned after three days. I am not ready to send her to school again and she returns home after a few days," he said.
As the strike bites, students in private schools in the East African nation are continuing with their education undisturbed, having successfully challenged in court an order by the government to close the institutions.
Meanwhile, Deputy President William Ruto has appealed to teachers to resume work, saying they should be mindful of the plight of thousands of students currently missing classes.
Ruto said the teachers should resume duty even as talks to resolve the issue continues between the Teachers Service Commission (TSC), the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) and the Teachers' Unions to find an amicable solution to the impasse.
"Education is the first and foremost requirement in transforming our country and we as government are committed to giving our children the best education there is in the country," he said on Sunday evening.
Ruto emphasized that the government's commitment to the education of Kenyan children was unqualified, adding government was ready, prepared and willing to ensure that this is realized.
He pointed out that the governments spends 133 million U.S. dollars every year towards teachers salaries, adding demands for a raise needed careful planning that required tolerance and understanding among the teaching fraternity.