Teachers make up a vital part of the workforce in any progressing society and without their influence and input, there would not be a proper avenue for learning and knowledge advancement therefore, it is always disastrous each time there is teacher’s strike. Teachers’ strike has a way of paralyzing the society and disrupting learning. Below are some notable teachers strike occurrences in Kenya.
Incidences of Teachers Strike in Kenya
The first teacher’s strike in Kenya was in the year 1962 just before the country achieved independence. From that period of time there has been a total of 11 teacher’s strikes. One may argue that the first strike was a ‘test drive’ on how effective The Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) could organize a strike covering areas such as Nairobi, Baringo, Kilifi, North and South Nyanza and Nyeri.
The second strike was held on October 1962 and was further declared illegal by the country’s first government KANU. When it was declared illegal some of the KNUT officials were subsequently arrested however, there arose grievances towards the industrial courts ruling which forced the charges to be dropped indefinitely. In this strike branches in Kiambu, Murang’a, Kisii, Central Nyanza, Machakos, Taita and Nakuru joined their counterparts making it a full blown national teachers strike. The issue was that the teachers union wanted one employer for all the teachers in the country however; this issue remained unsolved leading to another strike yet again in the future.
On November 1966, the third teachers strike took place and however brief it made history as the government finally eased its stand and formed one employer to serve teachers, so then The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) was formed through a bill which was tabled at parliament by the then Minister of Education, Jeremiah Nyagah.
The fourth strike was formed on November 1969, the need for an escrow between TSC and KNUT saw the formation of The Teachers Service Remuneration Committee (TSRC) who drafted recommendations from both the parties and forwarded them to the ministry. However, the ministry was not willing to implement the said recommendations leading to the strike but after going on a go-slow for a while the government finally accepted but the teacher’s were no sooner again on strike on October 1997 demanding for a 300% pay rise. Led by the late vocal unionist Ambrose Odongo, the teachers threatened to paralysis not only learning but also the examination dates. Since it was an election year, former retired president Daniel Arap Moi blamed the opposition for fueling the strike and went ahead to insult the Late Odongo. This didn’t sit well with the teachers and they showed their discontent through peaceful street marches.
After the elections another teachers strike was witnessed in October 1998 with the union blaming the government of refusing to implement the pay rise yet it was promised to them through the presidents committee. However on being promised they went back to teaching. In October 2002, the peace was short-lived when they went on a rampage demanding their pay rise which they legally earned in 1997. All methods used to send them back to class proved futile and the then Minister of Education, Henry Kosgey threatened to sack all of them but they didn’t relent. The strike caused a major paralysis in the education system that lasted for two weeks.
The January 2009 strike was cited the ‘mother of all strikes’ as almost 8Million children were affected by the go-slow. The teachers wanted a sum of 19Billion to be paid but with a lot of persuasion by the government the teachers went back to school with a promise of being paid 17.3Billion in phases citing economical issues. In September 2011 teachers downed their tools yet again lamenting that they were inadequately staffed due to the influx of students due to the introduction of free primary education by the third president of Kenya, Mwai Kibaki’s government.
July 2013 was the last teachers strike in Kenya’s history to date as the teachers demanded their 300% pay rise and responsibility allowance. The strike was held for 24 days and although it was ruled to be illegal by the industrial court, the Teachers union leader: Sossion, held his position and the teachers went on with the strike. however, Sossion was arrested together with his assistant and this time charged and sent to prison although he opted to pay for bail. The union together with their leaders were charged 6Million for contempt of court. Nevertheless, the teachers returned to work after striking a deal spear-headed by Deputy President William Ruto.
Since the teachers weren’t in work for most part of July, TSC wanted to withhold the July salary which triggered the unionist to threaten to form another strike. However, President Uhuru Kenyatta intervened and promised the teachers that the salaries would be paid fully and in turn they would have to implement the laptop project which was part of the president’s manifesto during the election period.