Teachers back to school in Kenya

January 29, 2009

The Kenyan teachers strike has now ended, just as it seemed to be reaching a moment of crisis. It looks like the government has won.

As the Standard newspaper reports, “an agreement was reached with the National Union of Teachers (Knut) that the pay increase be paid in three phases — but spread out in two years — at a rate of 40-40-20 beginning July 1 and ending in July 1, 2011. But the Government committed itself to pay the last phase of 20 per cent with the second phase of 40 per cent next year if the economy improves.”

Clearly, with the world plumbing the depths of recession and, quite possibly, depression, this is a poor bargain for Kenya’s teachers.

The deal also represents a raw deal for the most needy teachers. The lowest paid will see a rise of only 3,600 shillings. The best paid will see their pay rise from 45,000 to 120,000 shillings, or about twelves times that of the lowest paid. By any standards, that’s an enormous disparity.

For most Kenyan teachers, inflation will see their pay barely rise. For the elite, cutting a deal with the ministry which ensures that hardship continues for the many will enrich them mightily, assuming that is, that the word of the government is good.

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