By Peter Nguli
You never would have guessed it from the education strike debate going on in Kenya, but it turns out that the teaching profession doesn't exist in some sort of bizarre alternate universe, operating under its own unique economic principles.
According to a new study at the London School of Economics, if you pay teachers more, you'll attract better results.
In fact there is a direct correlation between teacher pay and student performance, with a 10 percent increase in teacher pay resulting in a 5 to 10 percent increase in examination scores. The more you pay teachers, the more they are motivated to do a better job.
I apologise for using my dear, lovely hard-working president Mwai Kibaki and my loved dearest Prime Minister, Raila Odinga as examples here. No ills intended. We all understand intuitively the difference a great teacher the makes. But did you know that at one time, these two principals had to be six years old; make no mistake, they never jumped that step, they had to go through it.
I imagine Kibaki and Raila at a kindergarten, both six years old but do not know where the toilet is and they have to be shown where to pee, but because the time doesn't allow, they pee on the shorts and wet their underpants with their poo. I guess there were no underpants by then, so may be they used wooden or Aluminium pants.
Their teacher had the duty to clean the mess without knowing that at one time, these two will be the principals leading one of the greatest economies in Africa. You would laugh, because that teachers are paid peanuts is a pernicious fallacy. It is a mockery.
For when Mutula Kilonzo, the Education Minister, mocks teachers as lazy, avaricious incompetents and threatens teachers with sacking, it makes us laugh! He demeans the profession and makes it harder to attract the best and brightest from the profession. Teachers are the best professionals ever. We should be elevating teachers, not throwing darts at them.
This brings us to the touchy subjects of talent and compensation. Most of us would agree that our teachers are underpaid while our MPs continue to increase their salaries exponentially. The speaker of our parliament, Mr. Marende, so mockingly says that Sh850,000 is 'peanuts'. But what he fails to understand is that his one month salary can pay about 200 teachers in one month.
Yet he does completely nothing about it apart from rumour mongering and politics. I am not a teacher and I will never be. But give me a bar of chocolate and I will promise you that were it not for your teacher, you will not be able to read this article. That teacher taught you English and you need to appreciate that. That is why you can read this story about whom you are today.
That teacher taught you about science; about electrons, protons and neutrons. He taught you about geography and now you can guess in a map that Al Shabaab are operating from the west of our country. If it were not for my teacher, I would never post this article.