|Written By:Catherine Achieng’a, Posted: Wed, Sep 07, 2011|
The government on Wednesday received a bashing from parliament for failing to forestall the ongoing teachers strike.
Legislators showing their solidarity with teachers hit out at treasury accusing it for ignoring to implement a proposal by the budget committee adopted by parliament that would have seen 18,000 intern teachers employed and an additional 10,000 teachers recruited by the Teachers Service Commission.
Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta however defending the government and urging for sobriety in the debate even as he cited lack of funds to meet the current demands said the government was forced to re-allocate 10billion shillings within its budget to deal with the drought situation currently facing the country as well as ensuring the implementation of the new constitution.
Uhuru also pointed out intense negotiations have been held on several occasions between Treasury, education stakeholders and the Budget Committee.
The Minister tabled an agreement signed by Treasury, Education Ministry, KUPPET and KNUT last year in which it was agreed the government employ intern teachers.
Uhuru maintained the current challenge of employing teachers is as a result of a weak economy calling for consultations that will have a bearing not only in the short term but also in the long term.
He asked all parties to approach the issue to avoid the suffering of students who were eager to learn.
Legislators however ventilating on the matter for one and a half hours following an adjournment motion moved by Imenti North MP Silas Ruteere supported the ongoing strike with Gichugu MP Martha Karua urging parliamentarians to reject the appropriations bill once tabled in parliament if it will not reflect the provision of employment of additional teachers.
This comes even as deputy leader of government business Amos Kimunya cautioned mp’s against playing politics with the current strike citing it was not in the best interest of the country to politicize the issue.
Turkana Central MP Ekwe Ethuro on his part asked the two Principals to take charge of the matter and provide a solution to the current crisis.
The Imenti North Legislator while moving the motion cited the ongoing strike was denying students their basic human right to education enshrined in the constitution.
He added the teachers were not on strike because of salary increment but because they were keen on providing free quality education and it was imperative for the government to increase the current student teacher ration with statistics indicating a shortfall of up to 76,000 teachers.
He said it was discriminatory to have some teachers working on permanent pensionable terms while others providing a similar service are employed on part time basis yet they enjoyed the same qualifications, saying the discrimination was unconstitutional.
Ikolomani MP Bonny Khalwale contributing to the debate condemned the government for failing to listen to the plight of teachers praising the teachers for what he says was showing sensitivity to the plight of the students, saying Kenya has lost funds as a result of scams such as AngloLeasing and it is time for the government to rise to the occasion and deliver on its promises.
Gwassi legislator John Mbadi, said the government was in this situation because it had overlooked the budget committee proposal that reallocated 5 billion shillings towards employment of teachers, from the defense ministry which if adopted would have stalled the current crisis.
Kinangop MP David Ngugi said the government is notorious for cutting agreements and not honoring them citing the agreements between teachers and treasury, the police and treasury and also mp’s on the issue of taxation which it later backtracked on.