JSS learners struggle on their own as TSC, interns standoff continues


Nairobi County Junior Secondary School(JSS) teachers hold peaceful demonstrations, on May 13, 2024. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

Some junior secondary school learners have been forced to teach themselves as the ongoing interns' strike continues to bite.

While some students remain at home, others have turned to anyone willing to help.

A teacher who sought anonymity said some students have been receiving private tuition from their former teachers at the lower grades. “The teachers have been working on ways to keep the students in classes and enable them to learn on their own,” she said.

Others have also been studying independently to keep up with the syllabus and prepare for the national assessment at the end of the year.

“Some of the students have been seeking help from us even at home as we sat outside the schools during the strike period,” said an intern teacher.

In Nyanza and Rift Valley regions, most students have opted to stay at home.

Maurice Ochieng, a student at Joel Omino, said that he is yet to report back to school. “I have been assisting my mother in selling arrow roots because of the strike. I normally revise with my fellow learners at the weekend,” he said.

In Nyandarua, Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) executive secretary, Julius Macharia, said they have advised the teachers not to work until they are employed permanently.

“This was our agreement with the government but they have not honored it,” he said, noting that over 3000 learners had been affected.

“What will happen to them since they will still sit the same examination as the rest in school? It is a sorry situation.”

Mary Rotich and Paul Kimetto, Kuppet executives in Kericho and Bomet, warned that learning would remain paralyzed until TSC assures that it would hire at least 26,000 JSS teachers.

“We want the assurance since there is an allocation of funds for the hiring by the National Assembly’s Education Committee,” said Rotich.

The union officials demanded that TSC withdraws show-cause letters, which gave the teachers 14 days to respond. They accused TSC of harassing teachers who have dedicated nearly two years while earning a salary of Sh17,000. 

The officials maintained that the demonstrations were legal, noting that they had followed all required procedures.

“The action is barbaric, illogical, irrational, and inhuman. Doctors were on strike for 41 days, yet no action was taken against them. Instead, the government negotiated with the doctors and charted a return-to-work formula. Why are JSS intern teachers being treated differently?” said Kimetto.

In Mombasa, police foiled an attempt by the striking teachers to stage protests yesterday.

The officers said they were under instruction to stop the demonstrations because the teachers did not serve notice, ignoring a copy produced by Kuppet branch executive secretary Linet Kamadi.

“We have decided to comply with the police orders. We will write a letter and hold a major demonstration here,” she said.

Meanwhile, some of the striking teachers have turned to menial jobs to earn a living.

According to the Kuppet officials in Busia, some teachers are operating boda boda while others hawking goods to make ends meet. “Some of these teachers have been using their limited resources to engage in hawking and boda boda business to earn a living,” said Mofatt Okisai.

“I have been using my brother’s motorcycle to carry passengers. The longer the strike continues the higher the chances that I might not go back to teaching,” said Moses Wafula, a teacher. 

[Report by Nikko Tanui, James Munyeki, Jesse Sikali and Patrick Beja]