Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - Kenyan teachers return to school after three-week strike over pay

Teachers in Kenya, East Africa, are returning to the classroom today following a three-week strike that forced school closures across the country.

Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 26 September

Kenyan teachers return to school after three-week strike over pay


Teachers in Kenya, East Africa, are returning to the classroom today following a three-week strike that forced school closures across the country.

Kenya’s National Union of Teachers signed a deal with the government late on Sunday night which will see the lowest paid teachers’ salary rise by 40 per cent to around £140 a month and the highest paid by 20 per cent.

Teachers, who are among the lowest-paid professionals in Kenya, had been demanding a wage increase of between 100 and 300 per cent in-line with other civil servants.

More than 200,000 teachers joined the wave of industrial strike action over poor salaries and the government’s perceived failure to implement previous agreements – some of which stretched back as far as 15 years. Noel Mwakugu, the BBC's correspondent in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, said the rising cost of living and the selective approach the government has taken to award pay rises to public sector workers – favouring ministers and MPs whose salaries average $13,000 (around £8,000) a month – had been the biggest contributors to the decision to take strike action.

University lecturers – who had also been striking over pay disputes – reached an agreement with the government earlier in the week. The agreement coincided with a government threat to sack much of Kenya’s teaching workforce if teachers did not accept a 4 per cent salary increase and return to work. Kenya’s NUT leader Njery Githae said: “We are the grateful the government has considered our demands.” As teachers began to make their way back into school for the first time since 3 September, Education Minister Mutula Kilonzo told a press conference that teachers' grievances and concerns would now be addressed to avoid future strike action.

"Never again should Kenya suffer a teachers’ strike on account of salaries,” he said. “My recommendation to the country is that we look at the TSC [Teachers Service Commission] Act and any other law so that we insert words that make agreements enforceable." The country already faces a chronic shortage of teachers and 18,000 teachers, meanwhile, are on temporary contracts with no pension rights/ which for many schools has resulted in a high turnover of staff.





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