The Kenyan government has shut all schools across the country over security concerns as an ongoing teacher strike has entered its fourth week. Following the decision, President Uhuru Kenyatta reiterated that the government is unable to meet teachers' demand of a pay rise.
Teachers went on strike in August after the government challenged a ruling by the Supreme Court stating that teachers should be granted at least a 50% rise. Teachers argue that the government failed to honour a 1997 agreement, negotiated by the then Education Minister Joseph Kamotho. The agreement, signed by the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) and the government, expired in 2011.
However, Kenyatta said that the agreement was settled in full. He said in a statement: "The claim that the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) still owes our teachers money under the 1997 agreement is not true. Then, teachers were awarded a pay rise of between 150% and 200%. The award has been settled in full.
"Two days ago, my government took the unprecedented step of revising term dates for our schools. That was necessitated by the unprotected teachers' strike, which has disrupted the education of our children," said Kenyatta.
Knut said that teachers will continue to strike despite alleged intimidations. Knut's Secretary-General Wilson Sossion also urged TSC to observe the court's ruling and respect teachers' rights.
The school year in Kenya began on 31 August, but many students did not attend classes and some schools have not been open since the strike began. The closure of all educational institutions has affected millions of students.