Kenyan cartoon pointing out irony of Laptops for Schools spendingĀ 

Kenyan teachers, who mounted a determined five week strike last month in pursuit of pay justice are still very much in need of global support and solidarity. Despite the fact that repeated court cases had found in favour of the teachers' case, union leaders agreed to lift their strike so that meaningful talks could take place. However, despite court orders that teachers should not be victimised for taking part in the strike, the government is still refusing to pay them their September salaries, causing untold hardship. Instead it has apparently used a lot of the money to hire temporary teachers to break the strike.

It is hard for those of us teaching in the global North to imagine the misery faced by teachers in so many parts of the world who barely make enough to survive. Many Kenyan teachers are now in that situation. A newspaper report talks of teachers unable to feed their families, being threatened with eviction because their rent hasn't been paid and, in a supreme irony, having their children sent home from school because they can't afford school fees. In one tragic case, a young married teacher, Patrick Irungu, killed himself when he discovered that there was still no money in his bank account, his father was unable to help him and he had no money to feed his children.

As if to add insult to injury the employers' side is introducing new regulations, involving intensive monitoring of teachers, which state that, 'any teacher who consistently displays poor performance or adverse appraisal ratings may after due process have his services terminated.' This is absolultely in line with the World Bank and education 'reform' narrative, which blames teachers for the perceived shortcomings of education while doing absolutely nothing about providing reasonable class sizes, adequate infrastructure and a decent rate of pay.

While blaming teachers for poverty and poor education, the government is allowing billions of dollars to leave the country into the pockets of global corporations and spending much needed education money on a misguided 'laptops for schools' scheme (see cartoon above).