Low turnout of pupils, teachers as schools open

High Court Judge Byram Ongaya pronounced a court ruling on Wednesday, calling upon the teachers to report to work on Thursday as earlier directed by the Teachers Service Commission.

Many would have thought that the court order would bury the uncertainty earlier elicited by planned teachers’ strike.

On the flipside, such uncertainty has reigned in many schools where few learners and teachers made it on the first day.

A spot-check by Standard Digital reporter in Marani Sub County in Kisii County reveals that some students and teachers failed to report to school even after court ordered learning to begin today.

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In primary schools such as Maagonga, Rioma, Rikenye, Maroma and Sensi; the few pupils who had reported were seen loitering in school compounds with no teachers to give guidance.

An example is Marani Primary School where learners were engaged in cleaning exercise as few teachers who had reported on duty spent better part of the day in their staff room.

Marani Primary School Deputy Head teacher Joel Omanga confirmed that the school’s teachers were not participating in the strike. Omanga said that a number of pupils had chosen not to report to school owing to uncertainty over strike.

“Our teachers are set and we are ready to teach our pupils, however, as you can see, there are only a handful of them due to strike uncertainty. Maybe, they will come tomorrow when they hear that teachers were present,” he said.

Similar situation was noted at Riamokama Primary School where a small percentage of the school’s more than 700 pupils were present in school.

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At Eramba Primary School, only one teacher was present in school. Pupils could be seen loitering and mostly engaged in extra-curricular activities.

Asked on whether her colleagues who had not reported were on strike, the teacher who sought anonymity asserted that she was unaware whether they were adhering to Knut’s directive or they were preparing themselves.

“I cannot answer your query at the moment as I don’t have such a report. Maybe we can wait until next week” she told the Standard. 

She said that the union should be keen on conciliation efforts as a way of having teachers’ grievances addressed rather than using the strike. She further warns teachers of consequences of defying the court order.

“Even if we have concerns to address, I think we could give dialogue a chance once more as the court has advised” she stated, adding, “I have my financial concerns and I wouldn’t imagine losing my pay or employment at the moment”

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In his ruling that suspended the planned strike, Justice Byron Ongaya ordered Knut to engage in resume conciliation discussions with its employer, TSC, to resolve dispute that threatened to paralyse the operations of public schools.

“All teachers must report to class in line with the academic calendar. Children should not be left unattended since it is their right to be in school” ruled the judge.

The judge also refused to reschedule the school opening dates to Monday next week for the purpose of allowing the union to communicate to its members concerning the aborted strike.

The strike plan has since been suspended by the Kenya National Union of Teachers KNUT.

Byron OngayaKisii CountyLow TurnoutSchools OpenTSCStrike