By Stephen Makabila
Presidential aspirants have kept off what could be the worst education crisis in Kenya’s history – Monday’s decision by 278,000 teachers to down their tools.
Key political observers as a grave national issue, but which politicians have avoided view the impending strike and its likely effect on the country’s education sector.
The ‘hot political potato’ has thus been left in the hands of three line ministries – that of Education headed by Mutula Kilonzo, Public Service headed by Dalmas Otieno and Finance under Njeru Githae, as a galaxy of those nursing presidential ambitions spectate.
Only Narc-Kenya party leader Martha Karua has come out openly to back the teachers’ demands.
President Kibaki, Prime Minister Raila Odinga, and Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka have equally not made any interventions to avert the looming crisis.
Unionists confirmed yesterday the Ministry of Labour headed by Turkana North MP John Munyes had not entered the fray, despite its central role in labour issues.
Chairman of the Parliamentary Education Committee David Koech, yesterday blamed the Executive for acting on the crisis when it was already too late.
“It’s unfortunate the Executive waits when things run out of hand to act. Parliament is, however, going to push to ensure teachers’ interests are addressed through genuine consultations,” added Koech.
The timing of the Monday strike by the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) that would affect millions of learners is reminiscent of the 28-day strike of 2002 that came only two months to elections, with heavy political implications.
Joined the fray
Only this time, the situation may be more challenging for the Government given Knut’s rival, the Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) and university lecturers are also to join the fray.