“Teachers I am not yet done with you.” That is the message the government is trying to mutely pass to Kenyan teachers. The ministry of education intends to implement new education regulation which will pin down the teacher who is already sick and tired of intimidation from the government.
The new regulation requires the teacher to sign a performance contract with his/her employer who is the Teacher Service Commission. The Cabinet Secretary is of the opinion that over 50% of the teachers countrywide are not working. That is a statement that surprises many teachers when they are going an extra mile to do what can be done for learners to pass the examination.
It is with deep sorrow that currently teachers have not received their September 2015 salary. The ministry of education should be reminded that teachers are already in “a performance contract” be in the know that it is only a teacher who has to prepare a series of professional documents for teaching before entering the classroom.
The schemes of work are prepared for the whole term which guides the teacher on the work to be covered on a particular period of time. In addition to that, a teacher prepares a daily lesson plan for each subject to be taught, which gives a step by step guide on how to deliver the content therein. It is also mandatory that the same teacher prepares lesson notes for each subject to be taught.
And to intensify the whole matter the teacher is supposed to keep a record of the work covered everyday and a progress record for each learner.
All the mentioned documents are inspected by the officials from the ministry of education when they visit the institution. After the official working hours the teacher is expected to sit down and prepare all aforementioned documents for the following day.
When the government is grumbling about the performance; we wonder if they have forgotten the huge numbers of students in classrooms. It is very unreasonable that a single teacher can handle 70-100 children in a class alone. To heighten the matter, the learning conditions are terrible, the learning resources are not available and the teacher is required to improvise and use locally available material as teaching aids.
Did the world know that teaching profession is one in many professions? And yes they are! Because, they, at one point become nurses to the pupils in class. When a child falls sick it is the duty of the teacher to attend to the child. Teachers are counselors. Parents have left their responsibility to teachers. The already overworked teacher is required to spare his/her time to offer guiding and counseling to the learners. Teachers are lawyers, preachers and even parents to the children that they teach. When parents stopped doing their responsibility we saw the outcome at Eldoret and recently in Nairobi where school going children were caught in a night club. That was direct effect of the long strike that took place and children became indiscipline. Teachers now are faced with a challenge to rectify such behaviours.
If the teacher is to be subjected to more performance contract, oh! Because they are already in a contract, it would be fair if it could be in conditions. The teacher to learner ratio should closely be looked into. And with that effectively dealt with, the teacher will be able to handle the learners well. It is important that the government ensure that learning materials and resources are available for both the teacher and the learner. The question still lingers why would the teacher still be subjected to prepare all the documents mentioned earlier? It would be prudent the poor teacher be left to have only the chalk and the pen.
It is an allowable effort that the Cabinet Secretary wants to streamline the education sector. But such efforts should not entirely be meant to intimidate the teachers who are already doing a commendable work. Such regulations should at least encounter various consultations. Let teachers breath they are already in a performance contract.
Hold on! It is in uncountable setting that I have had this uncertainty. And I would like someone to cloudless expound to me the real meaning of a word in Oxford Dictionary which is not vivid enough to me in terms of its denotation. My scrutiny lie heavily in the word ‘free’ as used in Free Primary Education, commonly referred to as FPE. The ‘free’ in that version bring a lot of contradictions to many parents who have children in Public Primary Schools. These children in public primary schools are required to access education freely as stipulated in FPE policy. Children are considered to be anybody less than eighteen years of age, children (Act 2001).
Just to recollect the history of FPE it goes back to 1974 and later in 1979 when the Kenya Government launched the initiative.
That initiative was a new dawn for both parents and children.
The FPE initiative had innumerable challenges and collapsed only to be revived by NARK government in 2002 which was their campaign pledge for voters. In that case therefore, in January 2003 President Mwai Kibaki reintroduced the Free Primary Education.
The mystery still lingers, how free is free? It has been in many occasions when the parents have received their children back in their houses. It is for a fact that children have been taken back home asserting they have been sent to collect activity fee. The parents are required to pay the activity fee yearly pausing a question whether the government has exempted it? It is also comic that parents are required to pay other funds which amounts to a lot of money yearly. The schools which are understaffed employ teachers who are paid by the PTA that leading to emergence of PTA money. I also actualized that, a student who is a new comer is required to pay desk fee and admission fee. The same student is also required to pay money for interview which gives a hint the academic level of the learner.
In addition, there are schools where parents are required to pay other school bills like electricity which administrators allege it caters for cost of pumping water. Schools which are fortunate to have computers parents are required to pay computer fee and in other situations parents expected to buy photocopier papers. In most of Public Schools there are days where children are supposed to put on P.E kits uniform which is sold in the school store. These uniforms are overpriced. As that is not enough parents also pay report book money so as to access their children’s examination results.
And it will be imprecise to overlook the monthly examination fee. The examination is done monthly and in other occasions after a fortnight. If a child fails to pay that money he/she is not allowed in school premises leave alone the classroom. The parents are also asked to contribute money to pay the school watchman or the cook if there is a feeding program. Now the tuition issue that makes the Education Cabinet Secretary want to spit up. His directives have always fallen on deaf ears because children still pay money for remedial class.
Apart from wanting to really know what ‘free’ means in free Primary Education Policy, the initiative in question has faced many challenges. The increased enrollment in schools is demanding increment of physical facilities. The classes are crowded and the classroom teachers have to handle more than one hundred children in one classroom. The government should not leave the school administrators to go to bed having a disturbing migraine wondering where to place the children.
I wish ‘free’ would be free or alternatively have the word attached to another connotation altogether. Children from badly off families are not getting full access to their rights of education. If the government claims to be committed to providing Free Primary Education to Public Primary Schools, then it should be unconditionally free. The Cabinet Secretary of Education Jacob Kaimenyi put it incontrovertible that the government will be paying the National Examination fee for children in Public Schools. With that said, I reckon the government should take possession of full responsibility to pay all the examination money for children from lower primary to secondary school.
Let the parents be spared from the pressure of paying fees having in mind that many children in Public Schools come from poverty-stricken families. My esteemed government, it is a heyday for Kenyan children.
Hearken to me you mama. Mama I am uncontrollably in tears because of the disgrace that you have induced in me. October 4, 2015 I happened to be among the students who were arrested by the police in a disco hall in Eldoret. Consent me to blame you on the whole predicament. You are a mother who has failed her child; mama you have failed. The day you brought the ogre you call husband in our house is when the puzzle started. Allow me to put some sense in your mind that, that man is not my father; he cannot even qualify to be my washroom’s mat. He is an awful and wicked creature to ever exist under the sun.
Mama you permitted that black-hearted man to brew liquor in my late father’s homestead. Would you brag that my late father is gratified to see him wander in his compound? Answer me mama-speak! How many nights was I forced to attend to drunkard men at the middle of the night? Mama, were you dim-witted?
Days in days out, you never bothered whether it tormented my heart. Woman you also became evil; villain. At school I unexceptionally had a fight with my teachers. Mwalimu never had slightest idea that I was in agony. My homework always remained incomplete, I slumbered in class and was always puzzling. The principal has always been questioning me about my absenteeism. Mama you forced me to do your duties as if I was not your own.
To intensify the matter your dear husband had made me his second wife. Mama I have been your co-wife. And you proved not to care when you started taking liquor and slept like a corpse. Down on the mat where I slept occasionally struggled with that evil man as he tried to defile me. The worst happened the day he took my virginity away. I sobbed the whole night and even wanted to attempt suicide. Mama I helped you and ‘dad’ to sell chang’aa but even getting sanitary pads remained an illusion.
I had to seek solace in drugs and alcohol which made me to slip off from reality. The previous incident at Eldoret is just an icing on the cake. Mama I have been a drug addict. But how could you know? You devil-care-mother. I have been drinking myself to death. The party at the dance hall in Eldoret was a good opportunity for me to sell bhang in bulky. Mama that is how I get money to buy my personal effects because you cannot even buy for me a toilet paper. Woman you are a disgrace to Kenyan mothers.
As I lament, I am in a far away town. Now that am here I will not see that monstrous-looking face of your so called husband. I have fastened to leave the old behind because I have acquired guardians as I unfold. Mama I am disappointed in you. I cannot stop asking myself if I really belong to you. Mama did you carry me in your womb for nine months? It is so unfortunate that you kept the lion together with the lamb.
Be told you society, that on a former occasion with my Cucu she told me that children belong to the society. You society have absconded your undertaking. It is for a fact that nobody cares what children do and nobody lends them an ear. Teachers, I argue you to get closer to students and you will come to a realization that some of us need you more as parents. I beseech my society to take up the challenge. Awaken for salvage.
The reality of empty bank accounts belonging to 288,060 teachers with 40,000 claimed to have been paid, denote an enormous injury for the teachers. It has been a take up arms between the Teachers Service Commission and the teachers’ unions, which has led to the government showing a valiant spirit of defying court orders. After a long cross swords, it’s a question of who had the last laugh between the TSC and the teachers. Mr Justice Abuodha ordered that there would be no victimization of teachers and their September salary, but according to the Secretary General William Sossion , TSC and the government are up to the violation of those orders. The unions have put it clear that they have suspended their strike for 90 days as ordered by the court, it however remains unclear; should we expect another strike early 2016? Let this be pondered because the unions expect the government to comply with the court order awarded by Justice Nduma Nderi awarding teachers 50-60 per cent pay rise.
The bell rang today on 5th October 2015 for assembly after 34 days later after schools were desserted and padlocks remained on the gates in all Public Schools. Teachers were on low tones and could not fail to show their disappointment on the back to class order. They had nothing to rejoice about and hence the learners as innocent as they looked; they could not understand why the “holiday” was too long. Perhaps the USA president Barack Obama changed term dates when he visited Kenya in July. It is for fact that all the candidates fear had started to practically eat a hole in their hearts because they were uncertain of undertaking their national examinations which hang around. The teachers had an opportunity to encourage the learners to embark on their school work, having in mind that examinations are just about to start.
The whole controversy will then shift to the relief teachers employed by TSC this week on contract basis. The TSC had earlier advertised 70,000 vacancies for teachers, which looked like a weapon to scare teachers, especially those who are about to retire and those who had received posting letters in August. The employment and Labour relations Court Judge Nduma Nderi stopped TSC from hiring the teachers which is a case filed by the Trade Union Congress of Kenya. Rumour has it that 10,000 applicants had already entered an agreement of three months before the exercise was stopped. To these teachers, confusion and nightmare will mingle together before the whole issue is resolved by the court. Since everybody is moving to court for justice, the relieved teachers may also move to the court to seek for fair play. There is still a huge shortage of teachers in Public schools. Instead of the TSC taking these teachers into a contract basis, it is actually an opportunity of employing them permanently.
After five weeks on strike, teachers’ expectation has to be put on pending and lamentably enough, the teachers lack the pay rise as well as their September salary. They have gone back to their duties mournful and thinking of unpaid September bills. The schemes work and lesson plans were ready for the content to be delivered today, despite the teachers’ employer shying away from addressing the September salary issue. Teaching is a call and therefore, teachers have opted go back to school to perform their task diligently. The parents and learners especially the candidates, have a reason to smile again following the back to class order. Teachers weep NOT.
Am not ready for Biology, and heck am not ready for Chemistry and to be more precise, me myself and I are not ready for the entire 2015 Kenya National Examination, which starts on 12th October. I feel like my rights have been violated by the people I trusted the most and I won’t let any folk drag me into blaming my teacher, neither will I blame myself. This very moment, I wish I was the Cabinet Secretary for education or even an official at the Kenya National Education Council because, I would act with speed and precision to save the suffering students of Kenya. The issue of the teachers strike has dug a hole in my heart and what I am feeling is what animals feel when an earthquake looms. Spare me your opinions since I don’t have phobia for examinations neither am I an indisciplined student because trust me, I have never been summoned to the principal’s office.
What troubles me even more is this question, Who the hell will mark my exams? Rumour has it that it could be the NYS, the mention of NYS makes my heart jump into my throat. Perhaps it could be the Kenya Defense Forces which leaves me more faint-hearted that they will confuse my well written composition paper for an Al-shabaab leaflet. Therefore, let me remain idealistic that our teachers will soon go back to school and take us through the examination process. But even with the return of the teachers to schools, I still insist that am not ready for Chemistry. My classroom hours have not been utilized well and yet I will still yell. My teacher completed the syllabus but she was to go through remedial classes during the entire third term. Even as I lament now, the topic Matrix gives me a migraine and what saddens me most is that, the last time I had a talk with my dear teacher, she assured me that this term, she would take my dismay on disturbing topics.
Somebody needs to revisit children’s rights because I have a feeling that somebody has slept on his/her job. My guardians have invested so much in my education through a lot of strain, and they have high expectations from me. My counter parts at Private Schools are doing final touches on revision and I know they won’t suffer the panic that I will go through, especially the initial day of examination. I think the invigilators should let the ‘Mwakenya’ trend in examination rooms in 2015. This won’t be cheating; on contrary esteemed Kenyans, the students will be confirming what the teachers had taught them earlier. Is it not so, that the teachers confirm the answers from a pile of books too when marking our exams? Yes they do for accuracy.
It won’t be a blow to me that mine will remain a voice in the wilderness because my feelings are so true and real. The consequences will be so bitter in that it will affect the youth of tomorrow and that generation is us, the 2015 candidates. Failure in exams will not be received with gratification but instead, there will be a lot of disappointment in every student who will have performed unsatisfactorily. Some will not even attain grades which will enable them join secondary schools of their preferences. And to form four leavers, the reality will dawn to them that courses that they intend to pursue will be out of the question. It is alleged that the government of Kenya has been trying to curb the menace of drug abuse and youth radicalization. If so therefore, I don’t know what this honoured government is doing to ensure that more youth do not become vulnerable to the same. Let it be known today that the outcome will bring awful repercussions in us who are the youth of tomorrow. Oh! The migraine again.