Nairobi (Fides Service)- “The closing of all state universities in Kenya is a sad event” the Catholic Bishops of Kenya say in a statement with regard to a strike called by university assistants and researchers which has paralysed the country’s institutes of higher education. The strike, which began on 10 November, involves all of the country’s six universities. It is estimated that 52 students are unable to attend courses. What is more, the strike is affecting the activity of structures dependent on collaboration with university colleges such as Kenyatta National Hospital with 1,500 beds, the largest in the country.
The strikers are demanding higher salaries and better working conditions. In a statement signed by Rev. John Njue, president of the Education Commission of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, the prelates express appreciation for the patience shown so far by state university teachers’ trade unions and they urge government and docents to return to the negotiating table immediately. The Bishops underline that “the strike has negative effects on students, parents, the entire country. The closing of state colleges is a negative sign not only for the other institutes of education in Kenya, but also for the nation as a whole.”
The prelates call on the sides “to let reason prevail over emotions”. “We pray and hope that the negotiation process can be de-politicised by all the parties involved. We call on those involved and on all Kenyans to keep calm at this time of difficulty. We pray to the Lord that with good will and wisdom on all sides the crisis will be solved as quickly as possible for the good of the nation” the Bishops conclude. (L.M.) (Fides Service 13/1172003, lines 26 words 310)