HE THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA
HON.UHURU MUIGAI KENYATTA, CIC
STATE HOUSE NAIROBI.
3RD SEPTEMBER, 2015.
RE: TEACHING SERVICE IN KENYA
Your Excellency, you are aware the public school teachers are currently on strike arising out of a protracted labour dispute that did not start with your presidency which however I feel in my opinion you are in a position to bring to an amicable wise resolution.
I write from a point of knowledge as a teacher who may be having a little hindsight on the daily struggles that a teacher goes through to make the education calendar tick. I wish to draw your wisdom to consider the following issues and facts that make a public school teacher a subject for consideration of a pay rise.
I do not want to belabor the fact that a well educated nation is better than an ignorant one.A country that invests in the education of her people places a higher premium on social economic growth.
Your Excellency, a public school teacher spends an approximate 9 months with a Kenyan child while the parents spend 3 months with the children, it therefore implies that a teacher, parents the Kenyan child a lot and deserves a better pay.
The challenges that teachers go through everyday in this endeavor is insurmountable. We cannot afford to rubbish that ,teacher demands for a pay rise will have a multiplier effect on other cadres of the public service to demand higher pay. This is untrue.
The Kenyan public must place a higher premium on education to other sectors because indeed if we got it right in education we will definitely have it right on other sectors.
The cost of living in Kenya has continued to soar while the teachers who earn as little as Kshs 20,000 are supposed to make do with that, surely your Excellency what standard of living will a teacher afford with such an earning ?
Your Excellency, allow me bring this to your attention that many experienced teachers are deserting the profession in pursuit of greener pastures, something that is impacting negatively on the quality of education in our public school because of poor pay and deplorable working conditions.
Many teachers are currently pursuing higher education as an exit strategy and it is not surprising to find many teachers enrolling for school based programmes and during the school term are busy completing their assignments and projects at the expense of preparing to teach. You cannot blame them because it is the system that they find themselves in that isnâ€™t favorable to their continued love for the position they find themselves in.
A lot of propaganda has been disseminated on why teachers do not merit a pay rise, for instance there are those who have been saying that teachers absent themselves from work and miss many lessons. Your Excellency, this may be true in some schools, and in such schools then, you have to ask this simple question, how many of those teachers that skip lessons have been disciplined? If not what has the headteacher done in informing the TSC about it, what has TSC done? My take is that, in schools that record a very high absenteeism rates, implies a weak school leadership that was put in place due to other consideration other than merit and so has no capacity and energy to offer efficient leadership and the buck then stops at the TSC because it is the appointing authority.
Quality education can only be guaranteed if government through the TSC is allocated more funds to meet the teacher deficit situation in the country. There are very many school in Kenya both in primary and secondary that only have 1 TSC teacher or at most two. Honestly what quality education do we expect out of such a school, where over three hundred pupils/students are being attended by school drop outs or at best those students who have just cleared form four?
I appreciate that the government implemented FPE and FSE, recently the government passed a policy on fees payment in secondary schools .Are the guidelines being followed Your Excellency? The answer is NO. What is the reason for the non compliance, in my opinion, it is lack of consultation with the key stakeholders who would have informed the policy, so at the moment, we have schools charging fees depending on the whims of the individual Boards of Management.
The teaching profession in this country and especially in our public school is a burden the teachers have carried on behalf of the Kenyan people for long. With the introduction of FPE and FSE,access rates has gone high. Teachers are handling classes as big as 100,this increased work load has not had any increased renumeration.An ideal class should comprise of 45 students. I can tell you that with increased demand for school places teachers are experiencing burn out. Teachers are not asking a pay rise due to the many children in classes but a decent remuneration for what they do in carrying this noble responsibility.
Insecurity and radicalization of our youths are twin issues that can be addressed though education and your governmentâ€™s investment in infrastructure. Take a student who comes to Nairobi, Nakuru, Kisumu, Eldoret or Mombasa for the first time from a part of this country where there is no single millimeter of tarmac road, do we expect this young person to remain a loyal Kenyan ? In my opinion NO.A pupil who has only one TSC teacher and finds that in other places outside his/her school there are 20 TSC teachers is more prone to radicalization as opposed to the former.
Your Excellency, as a country we need to deliberately through the equalization funds and through any other means, mobilize resources and channel the same to regions that we do know as a matter of fact are lagging behind and I have in mind the whole of Northern Kenya, several areas in the Rift Valley like Turkana, several section of the coast province to atleast bring them close to other regions of this country. Which Kenyan does not know that we have a serious inequality in Kenya?
Appointments to head schools should be guided by merit and through a competitive interview process. Term limits for school Principals should be put in place. Recently TSC indicated that they are going that way. I would propose that, we need to support this proposal to weed out school managers who occupy their position through corrupt and dubious means. We need to do away with the â€˜Principal for life mentalityâ€™ rampant in many schools.
The SRC, Your Excellency has not been fair to the teaching profession, at the onset of this year, the SRC has been hoodwinking Kenyans that, teachers should wait for a job evaluation that may even award them higher pay. The tragedy of such lies was short-lived because, at the height of the current dispute the SRC has been quoted stating that the Kenyan teacher does not deserve a pay rise? Will the teachers ever engage SRC again, I belief nay.
A country that respects the rule of law, guarantees peace and stability.Labour unrest is not desirous to any teacher, that is why as a teacher I resorted to going back to school when the court so directed. Now that the same courts have issued some orders sincerely Mr.President, canâ€™t the orders be followed or is it that orders are meant to followed by those who are not mighty ?
I do not intend to keep writing, but allow me say, I still believe that you have the best interests of the education of this country at heart and you will personally intervene to bring order and sanity to the sector so that as teachers, we will concentrate on moulding an all round Kenyan who can be relied on. If we fail in this area as teachers ,history will judge us harshly and we will have buried a generation alive.
Isaac Mokaya Omari
Teacher Nakuru High School
Teacher of the year Nakuru County 2014.
2nd Runners up TOYA Rift Valley Region 2014
Former Chairman Kenyatta University Students Association.