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Last update: 4 January 2014 h. 17:37
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Kenya

Teachers in endless wrangles with government

A row - which is simmering between the government and the teaching fraternity - could throw learning activities into disarray if urgent measures are not taken to arrest the situation.
Zachary Ochieng

The bone of contention has been the implementation of the 150 - 200 per cent salary increments awarded to teachers in 1997. The award was to be implemented in five years. However, only the first phase - bearing an increment of 35 - 45 per cent was implemented. Since then, the government has refused to implement the remaining 115 - 155 per cent, citing lack of money and a depressed economy.

But the Parliamentary Committee on Health, Labour and Social Welfare headed by Lurambi MP Dr Newton Kulundu recently concluded that the Government can afford to effect the awards. The Government, on the other hand, has adopted a can't pay, won't pay attitude. Teachers now argue that the government was not sincere in offering the awards and was only out to woo their votes, considering that 1997 was an election year.

Early this month, schools opened amid confusion as teachers had threatened to down their tools by the opening day. A nationwide strike is slated for September 23 as an Arbitration panel appointed in May to resolve the impasse did not yield the expected results. The Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) chairman Mr John Katumanga said: "We have been patient but we cannot go on like this forever", .As Africanews was about to go to press, the panel withdrew from the talks, citing frustration and lack of commitment by