Schools reopen today amid confusion over whether learning will take place or not.
Some of the issues clouding the start of the third term of the school year, when candidates sit their national exams, include the threat of a teachers’ strike, undelivered text books and concerns about delays in disbursing free education cash to schools.
Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) Secretary General Wilson Sossion was yesterday unrelenting on his September 1 work boycott threat that could negatively affect millions of exam candidates. Mr Sossion said it was “public knowledge” what action teachers intended to take following a fruitless meeting with the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) last week. “We’ve made it very clear there are things we are intending to do,” said Sossion, making a thinly veiled threat that teachers intend to stay away from the classrooms. But Knut appeared isolated in its calls for a strike as TSC bosses, officials of a rival union and representatives of head teachers said they expected schools to reopen and learning to continue smoothly as teachers’ grievances were addressed.
Following last Friday’s talks with TSC, Kenya Union of Post Primary Teachers (Kuppet) Secretary General Akelo Misori said the union was opposed to the strike. Kuppet questioned whether Knut had followed the proper legal procedure. “Has Knut given notice for the strike to the Ministry of Labour? We are not party to this,” he said. Yesterday, TSC gave assurances of a smooth third term, saying it had “comfortably engaged” with all stakeholders, including Knut, on issues including a collective bargaining agreement, and would implement them as agreed.
“We have engaged with key stakeholders, including the unions, and are addressing whatever concerns they had. We agreed to a five-day retreat with Knut to intensively engage with the issues they raised with a view to arriving at an amicable solution to issues they raised,” said TSC Head of Communications Kihumba Kamotho. Exam invigilators Mr Kamotho added that exam invigilators and supervisors had already been identified. Last week, Knut held day-long talks with TSC on mass transfers of head teachers under the delocalisation policy, delayed teacher promotions and withdrawal of the controversial Teacher Performance and Appraisal Development (TPAD) and Performance Contracting (PC) initiatives. The parties agreed to hold a retreat between September 30 and October 5 for further discussions but Sossion’s declaration yesterday, coupled with new demands by Kuppet for higher allowances, have put the talks in doubt. Although Kuppet is against the boycott, it has complicated talks with TSC by presenting a demand for higher pay for teachers to reflect the rising cost of living. “Transport cost has increased beyond the commuter allowance negotiated due to increase of fuel and general overall transport costs,” read the document presented by Kuppet to TSC last week.