Since September 3rd the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) has been on strike, demanding a nationwide pay rise from 13,000 KES monthly (153 USD) to 50,000 KES (588 USD). As a result, all teachers at primary schools, secondary schools, and universities have been banned from showing up to class. In many primary and secondary schools, the students have been sent home. However some schools, such as Precious Blood, have kept all of the students in an attempt to continue with the curriculum, with teaching predominantly led by students. This is an enormous concern for all Form 4 students nationwide, who in a little over a month sit to write their KCSE Exams. The students have lost critical class time that is dedicated to review for the exams. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, these standardized national exams, that every student must write, are critical in determining their future academic career. There has even been a call on behalf of parents and students to postpone these exams, although the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knet) says that the exams cannot be postponed, despite the likely damage this will inflict on the performance of the students.
Today I am going to Precious Blood to talk to the students about how this is affecting them and what they are doing to try to make up for the void left from teacher absenteeism. Jacinta, the Principal at Precious Blood, told me yesterday that two teachers who are paid by the board of the school have been coming in to help (all union teachers have been forbidden to go to the schools, many fearing for their safety if they defy these orders), but that the students are struggling immensely.