Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Education Minister in Kenya pleads with Teachers

By Jerry Otieno in Nairobi
Teachers wave placards as they march in the streets of Nairobi, capital of Kenya,  Sept. 3, 2012. Learning in Kenya's public

primary schools has been paralysed since Sept. 1, when more than 250,000 teachers started a countrywide strike demanding better pay. (Xinhua/Daniel Namale)
 Kenya`s Education Minister Mutula Kilonzo has asked teachers to go back to class, saying the strike action undermined the interests of children that were now protected by the Constitution.
 Mutula said that the Constitution had raised interests of the child and their entitlement to learning above those of parents and any professional organization and the ongoing teachers’ strike was in violation of the Constitution.
 “I want to plead with the teachers unions to stop the strike and not to ignore the court order. The court would determine the dispute should there be a stalemate,” asked the Minister.
 Speaking during a Press Conference at his Jogoo House yesterday, the minister said that it was wrong to keep away some children out of school yet their counterpart children were in school.
 While the Minister acknowledged that teachers’ had legitimate grievances, he, however, pleaded with them to comply with the Court injunction if they wanted the Court to determine the dispute should there be a total stalemate in the projected negotiations.
  (TSC) on the state of the grievances the teachers had risen, noting that he would forward it to the Cabinet for discussion.
 He asked the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) to exploit the mechanism the Constitution had provided to handle the dispute instead of using what he termed outdated methods in settling industrial dispute.
 He said the teachers risked severe disciplinary action should they ignore the Court order, as the strike they had called was unconstitutional.
 The court had provided that TSC could serve the respondents by way of advertisement in at least two newspapers with nationwide circulation.The two unions and TSC have refused to yield even as the Salaries and Remuneration Commission, pleaded with the parties involved, including the Ministry of Education, to “exhaust all avenues provided for addressing the matter.”
Schools which were set to reopen on yesterday with uncertainty over learning due to the teachers’ strike, which the TSC warned is illegal, but defiant unions made true their threat to keep out of the classrooms.
A spot check by the Standard revealed that majority of public schools remained closed with big padlocks hanging on the doors and majority of children seen playing while their counterpart children in the Private schools rushing to schools in the morning.
The Teachers Service Commission on Sunday publicized a court injunction stopping the strike and warning officials of arrest if they violated the order.

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