The Kenyan government announced on Friday the closure of all public schools from Monday due to the ongoing teachers strike that has paralyzed learning institutions across the country.
The ministry of education said in a circular that all public primary and secondary schools should be shut but the directive will not affect teacher training colleges and technical training institutes.
The government said only the students who will sit for Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) and Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) from October will remain in school to be taught by few teachers who have not joined the tutors' strike.
"The 2015 KCSE and KCPE examinations will continue as scheduled. This means all examination candidates in Standard Eight and Form Four will remain in school to do their revision and the said examinations," Acting Education Secretary Leah Rotich said in the circular.
Rotich said closure of the schools has become necessary since very little or no learning has been taking place in the last three weeks. She noted that there have been some cases of insecurity in some of the schools.
A statement from the Cabinet issued later on Friday evening backed the ministry's circular and directed boards of management of schools to carry over school fees paid by parents to the new term dates to be announced.
"Cabinet is committed to a speedy resolution of this matter and urges all relevant constitutional bodies to demonstrate the same commitment to allow our children to go back to school," the statement said.
The cabinet meeting, chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta said the matter of teachers' salaries and remuneration has been outstanding for nearly 20 years, resulting in a teachers' strike almost every year.
"This matter cannot continue to disrupt the education of our children. Hard decisions must be made to bring it to an end, once and for all," it said.
The government and over 280,000 teachers led by their unions have failed to agree on the way forward following a Supreme Court ruling in August that the tutors should be given a 50-60 per cent pay hike.
The teachers have vowed never to return to work until the government honours the court ruling that awarded them the pay increase.
President Kenyatta last week dismissed salary increment of between 50-60 percent being demanded by the striking teachers, saying the present economy cannot sustain an expanded wage bill.
Kenyatta said the current wage bill was already overstretched in relation to the economy.
"Teachers had a very legitimate case when they asked for their pay to be harmonised with the rest of the civil servants, asking for more now will mean the other civil servants will have a similar case and we will have a completely unsustainable wage bill," he added.
Treasury has frequently said that it does not have the 16.2 million U.S. dollars necessary to pay the teachers. It said that the only options it has are raising taxes, borrowing or submit a supplementary budget to cut expenditure from other budget items.
Teachers' employer body, the Teachers Service Commission (TSC), has threatened to withheld tutors pay for the days that they have been on strike, a move that could impact their financial obligations with most of teachers having taken up loans that are supported by their pay-cheques.