Over 200,000 school teachers in the primary and secondary levels in Kenya have gone on strike, demanding better wages and allowances. The teachers say the government reneged on an earlier deal and want a 300% increase. The situation has especially become a nightmare for parents, whose children are scheduled to sit for national exams in a couple of months.
It's the first day of school after the holiday break, but unusually for this time of year, Most schools are empty, and here is why a strike by teachers demanding a 300% pay increment has paralyzed learning in all public schools across Kenya.
Beatrice Mulatia, Chairlady of Kawangware Primary School, said, "As parents, we are very frustrated."
In about two and a half months pupils from primary and secondary levels will sit for the national exams. Unfortunately with no teachers, this is likely to hamper their final preparations.
Beatrice Mulatia, the chairlady of the board at Kawangware primary school has come to make sure the students are fed. Kawangware primary is one of the many schools on a government feeding program for pupils whose parents can't afford three meals a day and with no teachers present she is worried class eight, the last stage at primary level will not be able to complete the syllabus in time for exams.
Beatrice Mulatia said, “The children, especially standard eights, are sitting for an exam shortly, but in the first place, they were denied tuition."
In the standard eight classrooms at the school, all looks normal with pupils revising various subjects. The notable absentee is the teacher. 14-year-old veronica Mulatia says she is worried about her performance without teachers.
Veronica Mulatia, student of Kawangware Primary School, said, "The preparations are going ok, but without teachers we can't do it well on our own."
It is estimated more than 8 million students are affected by the strike in the primary sector alone and a further 1 million in the secondary sector.
Veronica Mulatia said, "I am appealing to the government to give the teachers what they want as quickly as possible so that they can teach us and we do well in exams."
A tall order considering the current pay package was negotiated by government after teachers went on strike last year. The government says the strike is illegal but for those preparing for their finals, it’s not about who is right or wrong, but their future.