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STATEMENT BY HIS EXCELLENCY HON.

UHURU KENYATTA,
C.G.H., PRESIDENT AND COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF THE DEFENCE
FORCES OF THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA REGARDING THE TEACHERS
UNIONS STRIKE, STATE HOUSE, NAIROBI, 20THSEPTEMBER 2015
Fellow Kenyans,

Let me begin by paying tribute to the of thousands of Kenyans who are


engaged in public service right across the country. These patriots commit
time and , expertise to the service of our country in the health,
education, and security sectors, among others.

My government is committed to ensuring that Kenyas public servants


are well remunerated, well managed and well taken care of so that they
can continue to deliver essential public services. To do that, we must
manage the public service in an affordable manner.

Two days ago, my government took the unprecedented step of revising


term dates for our schools. That was necessitated by the unprotected
teachers strike, which has disrupted the education of our children.

For the last three weeks, millions of our children have stayed home.
When they have gone to school, they have learned little because
teachers have had a protracted dispute with the Teachers Service
Commission.

The disruption is familiar, because it is only the latest in a long series of


similar troubles. In the last seven years, there have been eight strikes or
strike threats, timed to be as disruptive as possible in the school
calendar. This latest strike comes under similar circumstances.

In the past, we lacked a framework to settle these disputes in a


structured manner. Public servants who did the same work and had the
same qualifications found themselves paid differently. In turn, some
public servants developed a culture of indiscipline and confrontation.

Kenyans want an end to disorder, and unequal pay.

In 2010, Kenyans chose a new constitution for themselves. We chose a


new mode of governance in pursuit of fair and conclusive resolution of
such disputes, as opposed to the strife and inequity of the past. The new
constitution established the Salaries and Remuneration Commission for
the first time in our history, and conferred on it the mandate of managing
the remuneration of public officers, including teachers.

The mandate of the SRC is to set, review and advise on the remuneration
of all state and public servants, including teachers and myself, with a
view to ensuring that the public wage bill is fiscally sustainable. At the
moment, our public wage bill accounts for 52% of revenue.

The global average for middle-income countries like us is about 35%.


Further, the public wage bill accounts for more than 10% of our Gross
Domestic Product, well above the middle-income country average of
about 5%.

All public and state officers, myself included, number 680,000, just about
1.5% of the entire Kenyan population.

It is important to point out that of the KSh 1.1 trillion collected in revenue
last year, KSh 568 billion went to pay our wages, meaning that 1.5% of
us consumed 52% of our revenues.

Our debt, our maintenance of public assets, and our essential public
services must be paid for out of the remaining 48%. If the award were
paid to teachers, the SRC would be forced to harmonise wages across the
entire public sector. Based on last years tax revenue, our wage bill would
rise from 52% to 61% revenue collected.

Fellow Kenyans, the new constitution also set up the TSC as an


independent constitutional body to recruit and manage Kenyas teachers.
In the management of teachers, and working with the SRC, the TSC has

progressively enhanced the terms and conditions of teachers, and they


have now been brought up to par with other civil servants. That is the
equity that Kenyans expect under the new constitutional dispensation.
Right now, a teacher in Kenya is paid the same as other civil servants
with similar qualifications and responsibilities.
Indeed, a P1 certificate-holder enters the service at job group G, with
other public servants of similar qualifications.

Moreover, a graduate teacher enters public service at job group K, the


same as engineers and other specialised professionals. No one can
reasonably complain that teachers have been left behind.

The claim that the TSC still owes our teachers money under the 1997
agreement is not true. Then, teachers were awarded a pay rise of
between 150 and 200%. The award has been settled in full.

A P1 teacher who earned a gross salary of Ksh 7,762 then now earns a
minimum of KSh 23,692, while the highest paid teacher who took home
KSh 35,886 then now earns a minimum of KSh 140,089.

In any case, 55% (approx. 168,000) of all teachers employed by the TSC
are in job groups J to N, earning between Ksh 35,000 and Ksh 75,000 a
month. This is significantly higher than their counterparts in the private
sector. Ironically, private schools often perform better than their public
counterparts.

The claim that Kenyan teachers are paid less than their colleagues in the
region is also not true. The lowest-paid teacher in Kenya earns seven
times as much as his counterpart in Burundi.

The lowest paid teacher in Uganda earns the equivalent of KSh. 7,600;
the lowest paid in Tanzania KSh. 15,800, compared to the lowest-paid
Kenyan teacher who takes home over Ksh. 23,000. Indeed, Kenyas
teachers are the third-highest paid on the continent, after Morocco and
South Africa both of whose economies are larger ours.

Ladies and gentlemen, many of you will remember that the current
dispute began when the Industrial Court awarded teachers a 50-60% pay
raise.

The TSC and the SRC took the view that their constitutional mandate had
been usurped. They appealed, and they will be heard on Tuesday 22nd
September 2015. There has been no final determination of this award.

Contrary to assertions in the public domain, the Supreme Court did not
make any determination regarding the award: it decided only that it
lacked jurisdiction to hear an application challenging the exercise of
discretion by the Court of Appeal.

Another reason for the appeal was the advice of the Treasury that paying
the award in the amount requested would seriously distort our public
finances and hurt our economy. In this financial year, KSh174 billion was
set aside to pay teachers, up from KSh 139 billion last year. If the award
were paid, we would have to find an additional KSh 118 billion, to meet
the salary and pension obligations of the award.

The fact of the matter is that to pay this award, we would have to raise
VAT from 16% to 22%, OR borrow more money OR suspend critical
development programs and essential services in health, in education and
in security. Raising taxes, borrowing more money or cutting back on
development programs will raise the cost of living, slow down our
economy, and increase unemployment and poverty. None of these
options is tenable. Our country must live within its means.

Previously, as Minister for Finance, I personally engaged the teachers


unions in matters regarding the pay and welfare of teachers. That was
then, under the old constitution. Now, under the new constitutional
dispensation, the TSC, in consultation with the SRC, has engaged unions
and other key stakeholders in a good faith attempt to settle this dispute
amicably.

My government attaches great importance to education as a key driver


of the transformation agenda.
As a result we have not just improved the terms and conditions of
teachers service, my government has also invested heavily in the
education of our children. To make that learning accessible and
affordable to all, my government raised grants to primary and secondary
schools by 49.4 per cent, from Ksh 31.2 billion to Ksh 46.6 billion. Our
ultimate aim over a period over a period of 3 to 5 years is to make
primary and secondary education truly free.

Further, we have removed the burden of exam fees from parents, making
it possible for all our children to sit their Standard 8 and Form 4 exams
without having to pay. In 2013, only 8,104 of our primary schools were
connected to electricity. To create social equity, and to improve the
quality of education, my government has in the last two years connected
an additional 14,251 primary schools, meaning that 95% of our primary
schools are now connected. Indeed, in the next two months, the
remaining 5% will be connected.

We have continually committed new funds for the employment and


promotion of additional teachers, and we have doubled the amount
available for sanitary pads. Moreover, for tertiary education, 60 new
technical training institutes are in various stages of completion, and a
further 70 have been earmarked for construction, expanding opportunity
for the training of our young people. These programs are proof, if any
were needed, of my governments commitment to the entire education
sector.

Faced with the tension and animosity of striking teachers that occasioned
threats to the safety and security of millions of unsupervised and
unattended children, and the risk of destruction of educational facilities
in public and private schools, my government has taken steps to protect
our children, to reassure their parents, and to safeguard public property.
Last week, we revised the dates of the third term. Boards of
management were advised to carry forward fees already paid to the new
term dates, which will be announced in due course.

Equally, we have made arrangements to keep the examination schedule


on course. Candidates have been advised to remain in school as usual,
as have all staff who will prepare them for the exams. All other children
have been asked to return to the safety and care of their parents.

Ladies and gentlemen, Government is about service. I urge all teachers


as parents, as public servants, and as Kenyans to reconsider their
position on this matter, and to resume their duties, in the interests of our
children.

Let me also encourage teachers and their unions to represent


themselves honestly to those who pay their wages. Let us deal sincerely
with each other, because only then will we find lasting solutions to the
challenges that face us.

In closing, it is my hope that the facts as laid out in my statement bring


clarity and understanding to this matter. Let us remember that it is our
future, and that of our children, that is at stake. I urge sobriety and
sincerity on the part of all parties, as we handle this issue.
And, frankly, it is wrong to hold our children hostage to wage demands.
Even as we all seek a peaceful end to the dispute, we ask teachers to let
our children return to school. I am also aware that at this moment,
parents and children are anxious. But I want to reassure them that we
have the institutions, the means, and the goodwill to end this dispute,
and bring our children back to school. I urge the relevant constitutional
bodies to discharge their duties expeditiously, and in the best interests of
our children, and the nation of Kenya.

In consultation with relevant institutions and stakeholders, my


government will do all it takes to bring a lasting solution to this perennial
problem. We all have but one desire: to see our children back in school
soon.

Thank you and God Bless you.