Education International
Education International

Kenya: Teacher shortage to be recognised a national disaster

published 8 July 2010 updated 8 July 2010

EI affiliate in Kenya, the Kenyan National Union of Teachers (KNUT), urged “the government to declare the shortage of teachers a national disaster,” reported the national newspaper Daily Nation.

There is a national shortage of 66,000 teachers. “The acute shortage of teachers is no longer a KNUT versus the government affair,” said Wilson Sossion, the union's first national vice chairman. “It is a serious disaster and parents and people of goodwill should join us in this mother of all strikes, he added. We cannot accept to have schools where 3.4 million children are receiving a half-baked education.” Sossion called on parents to be ready to join the teachers for the strike “any time after the August 4 referendum.”

“KNUT is also calling for more funding for education, especially for the recruitment of more teachers. Kenya has about 40,000 trained teachers who are unemployed,” deplored EI regional co-ordinator Richard Etonu.

In a report on a survey on teacher supply, recruitment and retention in six Anglophone sub-Saharan African countries(2007), EI stated that “despite a surge in primary school enrolment as a result of the introduction of free primary education in 2003, Kenya has not increased its teacher stock since 1999 [...] Kenya has merely been replacing teachers lost due to attrition. As a result the country has 40,000 trained teachers roaming the streets.”

To that regard, Sossion said KNUT would not allow the government to employ teachers as interns, saying internship was “exploitation of the highest order.”

The pressure exerted has an impact on Kenyan national authorities. The British Broadcasting Corporation reported lately that Mwai Kibaka, the President of Kenya, had called off a meeting which was to discuss the proposal by MPs to increase their salaries from 120,000 US$ per year to 150,000 US$ per year, which would place them among the best paid politicians in the world. According to the Daily Nation, as Kenyan lawmakers defended their salary increase, more than 150 people gathered outside parliament on 8 July to express their outrage with the officials.

EI declares its full support for its Kenyan colleagues, and calls on the national government to reduce the teacher shortage.