Teachers cry foul after Treasury ‘snubs’ demands

By AUGUSTINE ODUOR and Job Weru

Kenya: A nationwide teachers’ strike seems inevitable after Government failed to allocate funds to cater for allowances and promotions.

Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) wanted Sh50 billion allocated to promote teachers and settle their allowances as negotiated in 1997.

They also wanted Sh15 billion factored in to hire 40,000 teachers. The union had also demanded Sh5 billion set aside to recruit 24,000 nursery school teachers.

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On the other hand, Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) wanted funds allocated towards harmonisation of their allowances. However, in his speech yesterday, Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich did not cater for any of the demands. Knut national chairman Wilson Sossion asked teachers to prepare for a strike and noted that once the action commences, there shall be no negotiations.

Kuppet has already issued a seven-day strike notice. Yesterday, teachers reacted angrily to the budgetary estimates.

Knut Nyeri Executive Secretary Mutahi Kahiga regretted that Treasury ignored teachers.

“We placed the issue before House committee. We are wondering why money was not factored in Budget,” he added. Nurses in the region also joined teachers in demanding for cash. Kenya National Nurses Union treasurer Jeremiah Maina accused Government of planning to derail the health sector. Maina said health sector requires at least Sh160 billion annual allocation to improve service delivery.

“The Government should know a healthy nation is not about drugs you have, but the capacity of personnel who treat the sick. Kenya needs at least 172,000 nurses, and there is an urgent need to employ more staff,” said Maina.

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Health services

He said Government should ensure at least 10,000 nurses graduate from medical institutions and get permanent employment.

Teachers Service Commission (TSC) had requested Sh3.5 billion to promote teachers. This means with no funds set for the exercise, no teacher will be promoted.

House education committee chair Sabinah Chege asked TSC and Education Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi to meet and decide who among them should degazette legal notice to pave way for full enjoyment of teachers’ allowances as per legal notice No. 534 of 1997.

Sossion said the union does not understand why they participated in the budget making process if their views were to be ignored.

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“We demand full implementation of the allowances complete with corrections of any errors in the payroll,” said Sossion.

Ms Hellen Gathogo of One More Day for Children, a charitable organization in Nyeri, hailed the Government for setting aside Sh8 billion for orphans and vulnerable children, but called for proper monitoring of the funds.

Gathogo advised Government to allocate funds to various organisations working for children in counties without discrimination.

Lecturers have also been caught by surprise as the Government has reneged on a promise to increase salaries.Up to Sh1.8 billion meant for lecturers and non-teaching staff pay hike is missing from Government’s allocations.

This prepares the ground for a showdown between the Government and public education providers with students paying the ultimate price. 

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Last year, learning was halted for more than three weeks as Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) engaged Government in a standoff over a long-standing salary harmonisation spat.

After intense lobbying from both sides, Ministry of Finance and Knut signed an agreement to pay teachers Sh13.5 billion in salary harmonisation.

Teachers strike budget