24 Jan 2009

Kenyan school strike to spread

1:15 pm on 24 January 2009

A strike which has closed most of the primary schools in Kenya is going to spread.

More than 200,000 primary school teachers went on strike on Monday after negotiations with the government over pay collapsed.

The chairman of the teachers' union says secondary school teachers will now join them next week.

A court in Nairobi has ruled the strike illegal and ordered union officials to restart talks with the government.

But at least 200 teachers prevented union leaders from going to the court by barricading them inside the union headquarters.

The government argues it cannot afford to raise teachers' pay as rapidly as had been previously agreed.

It wants to phase in wage increases over three years - but teachers fear an inflation rate running at around 26% a year will render the raise worthless.

The BBC reports the strike has closed more than 18,000 public primary schools, catering for some 8.2 million children.