The leaders of the largest teaching union in Kenya - the Kenyan National Union of Teachers - announced yesterday that their three week old strike will continue until their demands are met. The teachers are fighting for pay agreements which were made in 1997 to be honoured - including housing and commuter allowances. At present many teachers in Kenya are not even able to afford basic accommodation.

The Kenyan press reports that the World Bank is blaming teachers for the state of education in the country. Typically the Bank blames teachers in the country for absenteeism - claiming that the rate in public schools especially in rural areas is worse than that in private schools. While it is true that teacher absence is higher in many countries in the Global South than in the North, this is hardly surprising given that teachers for example in Kenya do not earn enough for basic survival and sometimes have to take on extra jobs to make ends meet, and also given the fact that teachers there work under conditions of massive class sizes and practically non-existent facilities, which this website would guess would see a huge proportion of teachers in the North absent on long-term stress.

The situation in Kenya is aggrevated by the Bill Gates sponsored initiative to give laptops to every child in Kenya, before even basic learning conditions are met. Even John Mugo of the  World Bank sponsored organisation Uwezo says of the project: "Last week, I visited one school in Central Province, which, even though the village has electricity, is yet to be connected to the grid, and I wondered to myself, if this school lacks power, how many other rural primary schools have any form of power connection? Assuming that most of the laptops will be solar powered, how will breakdown of both the soft and hardware be handled?"

Every kind of pressure has been put on the teachers and KNUT including attempts to have their leadership arrested for failing to call off the strike. Unfortunately the other smaller union, KUPPET, representing secondary teachers, has reached an agreement with the government, and the KNUT leadership has accused them of weakening the bargaining power of teachers in the process. As their General Secretary put it: "When parliamentarians push for higher pay they do so as a whole. Even if you attack two snakes that were fighting, you will not be able to tell which one bit you. It’s the law of nature.”

Meanwhile KNUT and its members continue to defy the pressure and to fight for more teachers and for decent pay. Send messages of solidairty to the KNUT facebook page at: