The move by the National Government to close all public and private schools on Monday 21 over the ongoing teachers’ strike has elicited mixed reactions from different education stakeholders in Makueni County.
County Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) Secretary General Justus Kimeu addressing the press in his office in Wote town shortly after the Ministry of Education issued the directive welcomed the move saying that the closure was an indication that the strike had been successful owing to the total paralysis of learning in public schools.
“The strike has borne fruits because no schools can run without teachers,”he said.
Kimeu took a swipe at the government for failing to honour the court order of hiking the teachers pay by a 50-60 percentage and retaliated that teachers will not go back to work unless their demands are met.
“I appeal to President Uhuru Kenyatta to follow the law and heed to the court order because the same laws are the ones that elevated him to presidency,” said the secretary general.
He asked teachers to completely keep off schools and warned them against attending examination briefing meeting or any invigilation or supervision of the forthcoming national exams.
“Teachers will neither invigilate nor mark exams,” said Kimeu.
He urged the teachers unions not to cowed by the government’s threats and intimidation but instead work together and fight for the teachers demands.
“We should all pull towards one direction because our unity is our strength,” said the KUPPET official.
However, his Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) counterpart Onesmus Ndivo has faulted the directive saying that the government should have paid teachers instead of closing schools.
Ndivo added that teachers are willing to go back to class provided that the government pays the 50-60 percent increase as directed by the court.
“If only the government would honour the increase we would be teaching,” said Ndivo.
He however stated that teachers will not teach without the pay rise and urged parents, leaders and all Kenyans to rally behind the teachers’ call for a better pay.
“Children have a right to be taught and we call on parents to demand for their children’s rights,” said the County KNUT Secretary General.
Mr. Nzau the headteacher for Makueni Primary School a private institution said that the school program will continue uninterrupted and asked parents to take their children to school.
“Day scholars shall be picked on Monday as usual and any other development shall be communicated forthwith,” read a message send to parents.
Parents who spoke to Kenya Monitor expressed their disappointment on how the government has handled the strike.
Daniel Masika a parent whose two children learn in Premese Academy in Wote town wondered what will happen to the terms school fees.
“Have already cleared school fees for my children if the school is closed on Monday will I also pay again?” he posed.
Wambua Kyalo also a parent in the same school said the government erred in giving the directive.
“Have struggled as a parent to take my child to a private school which is expensive. Who will refund me that money? It’s not fair,” he ranted in a Facebook post.
The teachers strike which will enter it’s fourth week next Monday has brought learning in public schools to a complete halt. The unprecedented move to close all primary and secondary schools has thrown many parents and learners especially candidates for this year’s national exams into a limbo.
While the government insists that the national exams will continue as planned what is perhaps disturbing is that the candidates have lost valuable time that teachers would have used to prepare them for the exams.
But with the hard line stances taken by both teachers and the government on the pay rise issue, the candidates have no any other option but to brace themselves for tougher times ahead and revise on their own.