Court extends orders stopping closure of private schools

The High Court has extended orders stopping the closure of private schools until a case they filed challenging the government directive to close is heard and determined.

The orders issued by Justice Mumbi Ngugi are contrary to the directive by the government, through the Ministry of Education – ordering for the closure of all school; public and private until further notice.

Justice Ngugi also enjoined Commission of Administrative Justice, otherwise known as the Office of the Ombudsman (an independent commission established by the Commission on Administrative Justice Act, 2011 pursuant to Article 59 (4) of the Constitution of Kenya), in the case as amicus after they expressed interest in the matter.

Recently, Justice Ngugi gave orders shielding children in private primary and secondary schools from disruptions for at least three days.

“Having looked at the application and the affidavit of the applicant, I am satisfied that it is in the interest of justice that I grant temporary orders staying the circular dated September 15, 2015,” justice Ngugi ruled.

The Government opted to close down all schools starting September 21st following countrywide teachers’ strike that is in its fourth week.

However, private schools owners, through their association Kenya Private Schools Association (KPSA), told the court that the war between teachers’ unions and the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) over salaries had nothing to do with their institutions.

“Learning in private schools was going on smoothly until a circular was issued. Private schools teachers have no issue with their employers and the children have no reason to be away from their classes. The decision is illegal and against the rights of the private school owners and that of the children,” lawyer Muturi Kamande, for KPSA, stated.

Mr. Muturi argued that the directive was placing the owners in a dilemma over school fees paid at the start of the third term. He said that there was a binding agreement between parents and the schools to have children in school until November 13th.

Retired President Daniel Arap Moi backed the private schools saying the government’s order to close their institutions was unfair as their tutors were not involved in the industrial action.

Meanwhile, a five judge bench of the Supreme Court led by the Chief Justice Dr. Willy Mutunga has declined to mention the case by TSC seeking a review of its orders which upheld Justice Nduma Nderi’s judgment that awarded a 50-60% pay raise to teachers.

After the Supreme Court upheld the Industrial Court ruling, TSC filed a petition to the same court to lift the orders on the basis that they were unable to pay teachers the said amount.

TSC later wrote a letter to the court through its advocate Stella Ruto to have the case withdrawn on the basis that they lacked confidence in the Supreme Court to hear their plea fairly, a move KNUT opposed.

When the matter was put before the Supreme Court Judges on Thursday, Ms Ruto failed to appear prompting judges to direct that the matter be heard in her presence and will be mentioned on notice.

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