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Don’t touch teachers salaries, Sossion warns school owners

By Christopher Owuor
Friday, May 29th, 2020
Knut secretary general Wilson Sossion addresses the press during the launch of a report on mitigation measures and recommendations on reopening of learning institutions, on Wednesday. Photo/PD/SAMUEL KARIUKI
In summary
    • Knut SG says salaries of teachers must be protected and no one, whether government or private entities, should use Covid-19 to hold the salaries of teachers.
    • Unesco report indicates that 2.7 million untrained teachers in sub-Saharan Africa are impacted by Covid-19.

Bernard Gitau @benagitau

Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) yesterday warned the government and private school proprietors against sacking or reducing teachers’ salaries and wages.

 Knut secretary-general Wilson Sossion said labour laws locally and internationally protect teachers amid the cash crunch being experienced widely due to coronavirus.

 “Salaries of teachers must be protected. No one, whether government or private entities, should use Covid-19 to hold the salaries of teachers,” said Sossion.

 After Kenya recorded its first case of Covid-19 on March 13, President Uhuru Kenyatta on March 15, ordered for the closure of all schools to protect learners from contracting the virus.

 Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha extended the closure on May 4, after the earlier 30 days issued elapsed setting a new date of reopening to early June.

 The disruption of the school calendar has left many private and Board of Management teachers in unfamiliar territory due to lack of cash flow.

 School fees row has, for instance, seen Brookhouse parents suing the institution and the situation is being replicated in other institutions with parents decrying paying fees for online learning.

 The Ministry of Education record indicate that 80,000 teachers are employed through the Boards of Management in public primary and secondary schools.

 Teachers salaries and wages row in Kenya comes amid a report from Unesco showing that 2.7 million untrained teachers in sub-Saharan Africa are impacted by Covid-19.

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 The new Unesco data released yesterday by Varkey Foundation shows that in sub-Saharan Africa nearly half (42 per cent or 2.7 million) of all the 6.4 million primary and secondary teachers impacted by coronavirus school closures are untrained.

 Peter Tabichi, Global Teacher Prize 2019 winner, took part in the virtual meeting where nine teacher task forces were launched to tackle coronavirus education challenges, including to ensure a safe environment for teachers and pupil, and that lost school days do not turn into a lost generation,

 “It is vital that we put the teacher voice at the heart of our mission to champion inclusive learning opportunities for children and young people all over the world...” Stefania Giannini, Unesco Assistant Director-General for Education, said.

 Tabichi said the coronavirus pandemic is a serious challenge to education globally, especially in parts of the world such as Africa where there is a large digital divide.

 “We urgently need to expand internet access and find remote learning solutions where there is none. To do so it is vital that the voices of African teachers, who are shaping the future of the continent every day, are heard at the top table,” he said. 

With learning institutions closed, the crisis has forced schools across the world to rapidly move online with little preparation.

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