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Publishers back calls for strike over education cash

By Athman Amran, Robert Kiplagat and Victor Nzuma

Publishers have joined Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) in giving the Government an ultimatum over free education cash.

The umbrella body told the Government to release free primary and secondary school education funds by Thursday or face dire consequences.

Kenya Publishers Association (KPA) on Monday said the book-publishing industry will join Knut and Kenya Union of Post Primary Teachers (Kuppet) in a strike if Sh11.6 billion is not released by Thursday.

“We have a moral obligation as publishers to ensure that education of our children continues smoothly,” KPA chairman Lawrence Njagi said during a press briefing in Nairobi.

Njagi added schools owe booksellers about Sh8 billion.

“This is a perennial issue that seems to plague the Ministry of Education every term. It has become a curse for schools to re-open,” Njagi said.

He said the funds were crucial to successful running of schools since they are used for payment of important services.

“What is shocking is that the term dates are well known to both ministries of Education and Finance. Is it lack of planning, negligence or are State officers not doing their jobs?” Njagi posed.

KPA also called on Government to fast-track review of the education system so that publishers can plan on the books that may be needed by schools.

Meanwhile, Assistant Minister for sports and Youth Affairs Wavinya Ndeti appealed to teachers to ignore a planned strike by Knut scheduled for this week.

Money in the Treasury

The Kathiani MP said going on strike would affect learning and will not solve the problem.

“Since the government has not indicated that the money is not available, then why should Knut rush to strike,’’ she argued.

Her calls came as teachers unions voiced support for the strike and asked the Government to release the money. KNUT Baringo branch executive secretary Charles Kamuren said delay to release is affecting learning.

“We cannot allow teachers, students and pupils to suffer due to lack of funds yet the money is in the Treasury. We are giving them an ultimatum to release the money, failure to which we will join the strike,” he warned.

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