by Bedah Mengo
NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- A week ago,
Vincent Odour, a bachelor of commerce student at a Kenyan
university, went home after the institution closed for 10 days
over insecurity arising from repeat polls held on Oct. 26.
Odour, a third-year student, expects to return to campus next
week so that he can complete the second semester and move to the
final year starting January 2018.
However, this would not be the case as lecturers in the East
African nation downed their tools on Wednesday to push for
implementation of their collective bargaining agreement, which
would make them earn more.
It is the third time this year the 9,000 lecturers in public
universities are going on strike seeking to push the government
to pay them 50 million U.S. dollars salary arrears.
And as the lecturers’ strike, Odour and over 200,000 other
students in the institutions of learning in Kenya would be
facing disruption of their studies for as many times this year.
"This year has been unfair to us.
"This is the fourth time our studies have been disrupted, if
it is not lecturers’ strike, it is students’ strike or
"Universities closed before Aug. 8 elections, we resumed
studies but had to close again for the Oct. 26 repeat elections.
"This is too much," said Oduor on Tuesday.
The student, as many others, has stayed on campus barely four
months this year due to the disruptions, an indication that he
may not finish his studies on time.
"Ever since I joined campus two years ago, this has been the
most disrupted academic calendar.
"The past two years were better," said Eunice Machuhi, a
student at Nairobi University.
The university was among those closed weeks over the repeat
elections following ethnic and political tensions among
The college was closed indefinitely by its Senate and Machuhi,
who studies Bachelor of Education, and her colleagues hope to
return to college perhaps next year.
"We have not heard communication yet from the university but
indications from our students leaders show that we may be
recalled next year.
"I was hopeful of finishing my studies in 2019 but this will
The ongoing lecturers’ strike therefore exacerbates an
already worse situation, with many students currently idling at
"It is a tricky situation for us because you cannot even look
for a job since you do not know if we would be recalled back to
campus the next day," said Machuhi, who is now involved in
church activities to while time away.
According to the Universities Academic Staff Union (Uasu)
secretary-general Constantine Wasonga, all the lecturers in East
African nation’s 31 public universities have boycotted duty
until government meets their demand.
"There is no turning back unless the government implements
the new rates for both basic salary and house allowance.
"It is time to strike, strike and strike," Wasonga said on
Wasonga accuses universities of refusing to effect a pay
raise for workers to new brackets negotiated under the 2013-2017
collective bargaining agreement.
"All staff were to receive new salary based on the 100
million dollars pay deal.
"Only five universities have made the adjustments," he said.
Universities, however, termed the strike premature as
discussions were still ongoing.
Inter-Public Universities Councils Consultative Forum
chairman Paul Kanyari said Wednesday lecturers were impatient
but the deal was on, though there was delay.
"We have the promise and it is still there.
"We are negotiating and trying to get them to understand,"
He noted that the government, which has currently raised
public borrowing especially from the domestic market to push
internal debt to 21 billion dollars, according to Treasury, was
yet to release money needed to move workers’ pay upwards in line
with the signed salary deal.
However, most of the students suffering currently are those
in undergraduate level as for some universities, part-time
post-graduate students are in session.
At the University of Nairobi in the central business
district, post-graduate evening classes are currently ongoing
even as undergraduate students stay at home.
"We have been informed that classes would go on until when we
sit exams in December.
The strike started yesterday but our classes were not
Even when the university was closed two weeks ago, we were
not affected,’ said Sylvia Wanjiku, a Masters student.