Nairobi — Learning in public schools throughout the country will remained paralysed for the third week starting Monday, after teachers defied pleas to call off their strike.
The Kenya National Union of Teachers chairman (KNUT) Wilson Sossion said teachers would not budge from their position, and told the government to stop what he termed as threats and instead "put money on the table."
He said the teachers were ready for negotiations, rebutting claims that they had refused calls for dialogue by the government on the matter.
"We have been invited to one meeting only since the strike began and we attended. Then we asked them, can you give us the money? They asked for some time out which lasted for almost the whole day. When they came back they said the money was there but we had to end the strike first," Sossion said. "That is putting the cart before the horse."
He maintained that the union was open for constructive dialogue saying the teachers were also concerned about students in public schools who continued to miss crucial studies.
"We want the government to tell Kenyans how much money have they put on the table as a show of commitment. Let them just even write a letter to the Teachers Service Commission tomorrow and send the money and we will end the strike immediately," Sossion said.
He was speaking after a meeting with a group of religious leaders in Nairobi, but remained hesitant to talk about the talks saying that "it was just a normal prayer meeting."
"The strike is still on and I would like all the teachers employed by the government to go on until their debt is paid. The teachers have the strike and the government has the money. So the teachers should be given the money and they drop the strike... simple exchange," Knut acting Secretary General Mudzo Nzili said.
Nzili maintained that the teachers will not be cowed by the threat of imprisonment or penalties and will continue their strike until the Sh47 billion owed to them is paid.
Attorney General Githu Muigai has already warned that the striking teachers that they risk jail terms and fines for defying a court order to resume teaching.
Nzili said they would not go back to class until an agreement signed in 1997 was implemented to cover medical, commuter and housing allowances.
Several leaders including President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto have urged the teachers to resume work and focus on dialogue but their call has been rejected.
Margaret has been a business reporter for the past three years. She is currently pursuing a degree in Communications and Public Relations at Moi University. She holds a diploma in film and video production from the Kenya institute of Mass Communications. Apart from journalism, she has interest in community work, especially helping the disadvantaged.