Written by Rosemary Wachiye
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Bungoma teachers who are still protesting over the government's move not to effect the 197 agreement of paying teachers salary increement. Protests that have entered its third week with no amicable solution. [PHOTO | Rosemary Wachiye | West Fm]
Webuye, Bungoma County: Following the ongoing nationwide public school teachers’ strike parents from Bungoma East District are now threatening to demonstrate against the government for failing to resolve with the teachers’ unions to call off the strike.
The nationwide strike that has paralyzed learning in all public institutions has now entered its third week and still no solution seem to be arrived at.
The meeting scheduled between representatives of the government and the teachers’ unions did not bear fruit after Finance Minister Mr. Robinson Githae failed to turn up for the meeting.
According to the parents, the move by the Finance Minister is cynical and it shows that the government is not serious with resolving the issues pertaining education of the children, they therefore vow to go on the streets to demonstrate against the laxity of government in counseling the strike.
“The government has the powers to deal with the ongoing strike so that the children can go back to schools and embark on normal learning program but it has shown us just how much it doesn’t care about the children,” said Mr. Erick Soita, a parent.
They said that most of the legislators are less affected by the strike since most of their children study abroad and therefore no matter how long the strike takes they are not bothered.
However on Wednesday, the Finance Minister said that he had no powers to effect financial allocations outside the current budget estimates for the 2012/2013 Financial Year after its approval saying the teacher’s issues can be solved in the next budget.
“The Constitution decided that if nothing is in the budget, the Minister of Finance has no power to authorize even five cents.”
Githae said. Adding that, “I have been wondering why you say the minister of finance is insensitive. Parliament is now a budget making institution and it is no longer a rubber-stamping body. You are blaming a wrong person.”
The Bungoma parents complain of the whole third term fees they will be expected to pay in schools regardless of the time the children have spent at home in the strike period.
“Since the strike has taken up most of the third term period, when schools resume, we will still be expected to pay the whole fees and yet our children have been at home the whole time,” said Mr.Titus Wanyonyi.
The parents now threaten to go on the streets together with the children who have lost over 3 weeks of learning and demand the government to intervene and salvage the education sector from going down.
Pupils and students from public primary schools, secondary schools and universities risk attaining poor grades in this year’s national examinations if the strike will run into the examination period that is set to kick off next Month.
The National Examination Council on the other hand states that extension of the teachers strike might is going to affect the supervision and marking of the National Exams which requires presence of qualified teachers.
However, Finance Minister still holds that it’s not in his power to promise teachers any amount out of the 2012/2013 financial budget and asked them to resume duty and wait for their pay rise demands to be incorporated in the next year’s budget.
The Kenya National Union for Teachers’ KNUT Bungoma East branch still insists that the strike will continue, up and until the government fulfills its promise to the teachers.
“We will not allow the government to short change us again by making promises it cannot keep, the strike is on and we want to tell our teachers not to lose hope and steer on with the same spirit,” said KNUT Executive Secretary Bungoma East, Mr.Aggrey Namisi.
Mr.Namisi paused challenge to the government as the third week approaches the end saying that its doing a big disservice to the innocent Kenyan children whose parents cannot afford private school education.
Kenya Union of Post Primary Education KUPPET on the other hand, is only asking for commuter allowance and harmonization of their basic salary with that of other civil servants.
According to Bungoma County KUPPET Vice Chairman Mr.Nangeni, harmonization should be done at once not in three phases as suggested by Teacher Service Commission that led to a stalemate of Tuesday’s meeting between the union and the government.
“A civil servant in job group L earns over Sh. 10,000 basic salary more than a teacher in the same job group and over Sh. 4,000 commute allowance and that is what we want to be changed then we will go back to class,” said Mr.Nangeni.
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