By Augustine Oduor
It was a daunting task for presidential aspirants as they sought to win the votes of 6,000 head teachers meeting in Mombasa last week.
There was no ceremony as politicians often expected from the audience. Instead, the teachers wanted their issues addressed. They insisted they would only consider a presidential candidate whose manifesto is robust on their affairs.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga, his two deputies Uhuru Kenyatta and Musalia Mudavadi, and Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka were some of the presidential aspirants invited to address the teachers. Also invited was Gichugu MP Martha Karua, former education PS James ole Kiyiapi, and former Higher Education minister William Ruto.
First, the teachers laid down a raft of conditions they wanted met. Bridging the teacher gap, salary increments complete with allowances, streamlining the Early Childhood Education, enhanced free education capitation per child and its immediate release among a flurry of other general reforms in the sector.
Pressed to explain what their vision for the education sector would be once elected, the candidates strived to outdo each other. Ruto and Uhuru did not attend. But Kalonzo, who was the first to address the teachers, said he will establish a realistic formula to guide the funding of education at all levels.
Realistic resource matrix
Kalonzo said the fact that the budgetary allocation for free education for primary school has remained constant since 2003 is an oversight that must be urgently corrected.
“If we are keen on ensuring quantity is marched with quality, the financial allocation to education must move towards a more realistic resource matrix. Critical, too, is timely release of these funds,” he said.
Teachers demanded that the capitation per child for each student in free day secondary school be tripled to Sh30,795 up from Sh10,265. They also demanded the free primary grants increased to over Sh5,000.
Kalonzo also promised teachers that, once elected, he will bridge the teacher gap and noted that plans will be made to see that some of the qualified teachers are hired in neighbouring countries.
“The restructuring agenda in this sector will aim at achieving wholesome reforms that will replace appointment with deployment on merit. Under the same banner, is the employment of jobless and qualified teachers in neighbouring countries or any other country,” he said.
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