Teachers in Kenya are giving massive support to their ongoing strike, despite attempts by the court and the Teachers Services Commission to intimidate them. The General Secretary of the Kenyan National Union of Teachers (KNUT), Wilson Sossion dismissed claims in the media that the strike had been ruled illegal by the courts, saying in a tweet that: 'our strike is legal. We followed all procedures of law and promptly delivered it on time.' These kinds of 'dirty tricks' were to be expected, said Sossion. Meanwhile the Teachers Service Commission threatened teachers that they would be dealt with individually for failing to report for duty. The situation is made worse in Kenya by the anti-democratic laws being passed by the Kenyatta government against the rights to assemble and protest.

The teachers have received strong support, both from the Kenyan Trades Union Congress and from Education International, in their fight for a living wage. The government is now saying that teachers will have to wait eight months for a 'job evaluation' before they can receive a pay rise, saying that their pay should be tied to 'productivity and performance.' Such linkage is bad enough in the countries of the North where teachers are doing their best under difficult conditions, but in Kenya it is grossly insulting. Class sizes in the country average 100, there is a shortage of 170,000 teachers and conditions in public schools are very bad. As Sossion put it, teachers are 'underpaid, overworked and overloaded . . . the government should hire enough teachers and remunerate them well.'

KNUT has a proud history of fighting for public education and the teaching profession. They have in the past won important victories over the issue of contract teachers as well as striking against a multi-million dollar, Gates backed scheme to give children laptops while still failing to hire enough teachers or pay them properly. 

Even as global corporations continue to enrich themselves and a small political elite in the country by exploiting the country's great wealth, and private education corporations expand their operations in the country, KNUT is in the forefront of the fight to defend public education and deserves global support. To read more background on the teachers' struggles in Kenya go here.