In Summary
  • The adjustments to the academic calendar have students graduate later than expected.
  • Academic staff tend to be under a lot of pressure to complete the syllabus and work with a constantly adjusting calendar.

It is the headline that Kenyans have become accustomed to: Workers to go on strike.

Be they doctors, nurses or teachers, the narrative remains the same.

Industrial action has become a much-needed avenue for workers to air their grievances in Kenya.

Last year, there were three lecturers’ strikes, which paralysed learning in public universities.

On February 21, 2018, the Universities Academic Staff Union (Uasu) issued a seven-day strike notice, citing failure by the government and the Inter-Public Universities Councils’ Consultative Forum to table a counter-proposal on the 2017-2021 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

Lecturers, like every other worker, have a constitutionally protected right to fair labour practices.

This means that they are entitled to fair remuneration, reasonable working conditions, trade union members and going on strike.

Last December, Uasu called off the previous strike following a return-to-work formula.

The causes of these strikes tend to be the focus of discussion yet it is imperative that consideration be given to the effects of constant industrial action on students, faculty and the institutions.

One of the biggest concerns for students during a lecturers’ strike is their missing contact hours with information on topics crucial to passing course work tests and examinations.

They tend to read on their own or teach themselves the content that they so miss.

This is a poor substitute for teaching as it does not include the additional comments and insights from lecturers, which would help them to understand the subject better.

Another concern is the timing of the strikes: Either in the middle of the semester or near the end.

This means continuous assessments tests and exams are postponed, disrupting learning.

It could adversely affect the students’ final grades, which are reflected in the transcripts that are presented to employers after graduation.

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