By Mukurima Muriuki
Last year, New York city and the United Federation of Teachers agreed on a pay deal for teachers.
The contract will cost the city approximately $5.3 billion before it expires in 2018. By the end of the contract in 2018, starting salaries for new teachers out of college with a bachelor’s degree will have gone from $46,445 to $54,411 a year.
Salaries for senior teachers, those with 22 or more years in the classroom and a master’s degree plus 30 additional credits, will go from $102,060 to $119,565.
There are countries where it’s rewarding to be a teacher, where a teacher can make more money than a politician. But because our society is anchored on politics and the politicians, anyone who dismantles the status quo becomes “enemy of maendeleo.”
Our vision 2030 is categorical that education is one of the engines that will propel the country towards this vision. To this end, I want to believe that the frontiers of vision 2030 looked at countries that top the PISA index scores in terms of education efficiency and high students score in subjects like Maths and Science which anchor innovation and cutting edge discoveries.
I am persuaded that these visionary men and women must have examined research that shows there is a correlation between well paid teachers and education efficiency. For example, Singapore, South Korea, Netherlands, Germany, USA are some of the countries that pay teachers well, or at least, better than politicians. These countries, not surprisingly, also produce the best students in subjects like Maths and Science. You are free to name the innovations from these countries in the last 10 years.
A teacher in Kenya works over 40 hours a week. How many hours does a MCA work in a week, and work that can be quantified in a time and activity sheet. How much do we pay the MCA and how much do we pay a teacher who is supposed to mould the mind of the future engineer, or future doctor or future Isabella for Sauti Sol sake.
We have been talking of Konza as the next Silicon valley, the technology hub, but how do we get there? It must start with how we educate the young minds, and has to do with that teacher, yes, the one some are suggesting to be fired.
In the end, we must remember that it is not the teachers who proposed the 60% pay. It was not forced on the government; it came from the lips of the government. Have we forgotten? Government said it could not afford 150% raise but could afford 50-60% raise. And by the way, why do we have a Teachers service commission and a Public Service commission? Hmmmm?
We live in an interesting country, where because of our political persuasions, we can demand a teacher to be fired because of engaging in a legal and moral strike, but take a tranquilizing and dangerous drug of silence when Billions are lost in corrupt deals, and we never demand those culpable to be brought to book, or to at least resign and take responsibility.
Mr. Muriuki is a Kenyan scholar based in the US.