In the midst of the strike, students at Lewa Primary are able use the library to keep up with class work and prepare for the exams

In Kenya the third week of the teachers’ strike is nearing to a close without any indication of whether it will continue into the next several weeks or end in a few days. What is certain, however, is that with the national examinations looming for both primary and secondary school candidates, it is the students who are ultimately being punished.

As teachers have been told that under no circumstances are they to report to their schools, students are having to find ways, in their already poorly resourced schools, to not only access their learning material, but to go through revisions and practice exams on their own. During times of revision, teachers play an enormously important role for students, especially given the fact that in Kenya the student-textbook ratio is 3:1, and it is not hard to find classes where there is only one textbook to go around.

It is inevitable that students in government schools will be at a disadvantage when they write their exams, especially as they compete against students from private schools whose teachers are not unionized and thus reporting to school.

What could have been helping these students however, is a well stocked library. We have been communicating with several of the KEY libraries we have donated, and are finding that at all of them, the libraries are staying open, and the students are flooding in to study, conduct revision exercises, and do mock exams in groups on the smart boards. Though it is incredibly rewarding for us to know our KEY libraries are helping fill the gaps made as a result of this strike, we sincerely wish that more schools in Kenya were able to have KEY libraries.

Although a library is certainly no substitute for teachers, the opposite is also true. Both are worthy of investment, but ultimately, if Kenya had better stocked libraries, this teachers’ strike would not be dealing such a severe blow on the true victims – the students.