TEACHERS STRIKE AND THE ADMINISTRATION OF KCSE
We wish to begin by expressing our deep sympathy for all our school children and, in particular, all the KCSE candidates for the tribulations they are going through and the uncertainty hanging over their exams.
We all remember how useful and reassuring it was just to see your familiar teacher around in the compound as we sat exams. It was extremely reassuring to get that final advice from the teacher just before we went in for a paper.
For many of us, those final words from the subject teachers and the mere presence of those teachers in the compound, as we sat or prepared for exams, made all the difference between failing and passing.
We believe what was good for us is good for todayâ€™s candidates. The KCSE candidates of 2015 are missing out on this. Some practical papers, including languages like German and French have been done. The main theory papers, starting with Biology, kick off on 15th. These candidates are spending these final weeks to exams, struggling alone.
Nobody knows who is supervising the practicals that have been done. Nobody knows who will supervise the main exams when they begin and nobody knows who will mark the exams when they are finally done. The government has provided no roadmap. It has left education and exams in particular to the laws of the jungle and the policy of trial and error.
Jubileeâ€™s sole strategy is to starve the teachers into surrender and to sack them. We have information that the Kenya National Examinations Council is targeting individual teachers who have supervised exams in the past and calling them personally to prepare to administer exams again or face the sack. The approach is steeped in blackmail and intimidation.
Kenya certainly needs more teachers. Our country needs a total of 350,000 teachers. But we have only 280,000, a shortfall of 70,000.
This is the gap the government wants to exploit by employing temporary teachers. But the planned recruitment of so-called Board of Management teachers is just part of the trial and error and policy of blackmail and intimidation that will not work.
All qualified and experience teachers are on strike. We cannot abandon teachers and replace them with untrained ones. We are doing a great disservice to our children. The government must tell us where the 70,000 are from.
All the same, we are aware it is being expedited and to have somebody who will supervise exams and also to blackmail teachers into surrender. It is an extremely simplistic way to resolve the problems of a sector so critical to our future. The government is treating teachers as the enemy within. In the process, President Uhuru Kenyatta and his government are turning our country upside down. This has to stop.
We demand that the government presents this country with a credible plan for the management of KCSE exams, which have begun and the upcoming KCPE. The strike is now threatening the quality of our exams and the acceptability of our children in colleges they desire and deserve to join. Teachers are critical to the sanctity and credibility of exams and subsequent results. This strike threatens that sanctity and credibility and only the government can and must end it without threats, blackmail or victimization.
Exams must be administered by professional teachers, not any new recruits or just anybody in it for money. And we will take up the cause of any teachers who is targeted or sacked for refusing to be arm-twisted into administering exams just because he or she has administered exams in the past. Let everybody be clear. This crisis has been caused by the fact that the Government has refused to honour a court ruling. Sacking any teacher would only worsen the crisis we are already in. It would cost the education sector more. It would be uneconomical and we will not support it. Instead, we will do everything we can to stop it.
Let the government and the whole country be aware that the cost of this strike on the teachers, the nation and the candidates is immense and immeasurable. The cost of letting this dispute continue running is many times more than the cost of ending it by paying. Let this fact persuade the government to get away from chest thumping, posturing and inflexibility.
Even though it is not, we ask Jubilee, for once, to act like a responsible and credible government and end this strike. We owe it to the children. The government must stop the compilation of the hit-list that targets teachers. We know it is compiling such a list.
That must be the pre-condition, the basic requireÂment, of saving this country and the candidates from the pain of the continuation of this dispute.
The governÂment must embrace negotiation as a way out of this dispute.
So far, the path taken by the government demonstrates ignorance of teachers and students issues and recklessness towards exams.
There is no rational, financial, technical or economic reason for the government to keep the dispute going while at the same time planning to recruit more teachers.
Jubilee has no case based on costs. Jubilee only has an irraÂtional purpose in continuing the dispute. It is about ego and a determination to break and crash the Labour movement in Kenya. That is the game plan.
We must not play the game and Kenyans must not agree to play that game.
Jubilee is keen to create disorder and then seek political credit out of it. Â That is the game plan. We are witnessing a personal fixation turned into a system of government.
In all economic policy, in all social policy, in their very appearance and their conduct of government, Jubilee is hell-bent on creating a climate of confrontation and conditions of conflict. Jubilee is obsessed with the language of conquest, of defeat and crash.
It is an assault on the essentials of civilized life in this country and of values of this country. It has to stop. Jubilee must abandon intimidation as policy.
We appeal to Jubilee to embrace genteel concerns; consensus values and compassion. Jubilee must develop the instinct for conciliation and learn the dangers of arrogance.
Jubilee needs to know that apprehension is growÂing on the nature of the government that is ruling this country. This apprehension is now spreading to the children.
The government must not delight in this turmoil and it must not resort to sacking as a policy for Labour dispute resolution.
We find the cause of the teachers compelling. The case for the candidates is overÂwhelming. So we take sides in this dispute.
Mr President, we demand from you and your government a credible plan out of the teachersâ€™ mess. We want you, Mr President, to tell us how KCSE is being done without supervisors and how candidates are sitting exams without their teachers.
Mr President, tell the candidates and their parents what the plans are for the marking of these exams.
Signed on behalf of CORD by;
Hon. John Mbadi, MP.
Hon. Gladys Wanga, MP.
Hon. Junet Mohammed, MP.
Hon. Â Timothy Bosire, MP
Hon. Simba Arati, MP.
Hon. Rose Nyamunga, MP.