Kenya schools shut over teachers' pay dispute

Kenyan classroom during a strike Image copyright AFP
Image caption The dispute over teachers' pay has stretched over 18 years and involved several strikes

Public schools in Kenya have been shut by the government in response to a three-week teachers' strike.

A Kenyan court has ordered a pay rise of at least 50%, but the government is challenging this.

President Uhuru Kenyatta said that teachers are well paid already and a salary increase would damage government finances.

Teachers argue that a pay deal struck in 1997 has only been partially fulfilled.

But President Kenyatta disputed this, insisting that "the award has been settled in full".

There has been no teaching in public schools since the beginning of the month, as the teachers say the government should abide by the court's decision.

The government said last week that the move to close the schools was about protecting "children, staff, and... property" and to "allay the worries of parents".

There had been concerns that children were attending school without supervision.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Pupils have been leading revision classes in some schools

The more than one million pupils who will sit public exams next month are allowed to go to school, but it is not clear if there will be staff available to teach them.

Private schools have also been told to shut but some have defied the order, reports the BBC's Odhiambo Joseph in Nairobi.

Pupil Joy Anyango is worried that the strike could affect her chances in next month's exams and told the BBC that pupils "really need to get back to school".

She said that the current situation is making her "stressed".

Hugholin Kimaro, who has been a teacher for more than 20 years, admitted that the strike is "very painful", but told the BBC that it is for a worthy cause.

He said that the problems in the education sector need to be sorted out "once and for all".

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