The greatest reasons why the government is reluctant to award the teachers their deserved pay rise is not lack of budgetary allocations as Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich claims. Any rational mind will inform you that the fear of the ripple effect the feat will have is the only premise anchored in their cerebrum. I recall that last year, and prior to the onset of the melodrama that has characterized the teacher pay debate, Teachers Service Commission had offered the rise of 50% - 60% in response to teachers demanding 300% pay rise. It was a very bold move that would have probably slain the legal transactions that has created more wounds than medicine. However, under the advice of Salaries and remuneration Commission, the offer was withdrawn. Teachers knew all the devils in the details.
The government, if seriously intends to resolve the debate of chants, fist and disdain in education provision, the senior officers in TSC and the ministry must live to the facts and settle matters holding the same in their hands. They need not fear an escalated pay rise drama emanating from other quarters should they illuminate the faces of teachers with radiance. An argument that job evaluation needs to be done prior to any effective awards is drowning in the pool of mistrust. A question lingers: Does Sarah Serem commission really understand the job description of all officers as purported? I am sceptical looking at how the new house allowances were amended based on assumptions and probably with officers sitting in Nairobi, drafted figures that lack merit and reason.
Can we trust them to carry out an all purposeful evaluation? Is the commission really independent owing to how it has in the past been manipulated when the executive or the legislature squared it out? Teachers have no trust in the commission and anything they intend to do will be opposed. If the government and this commission understand what would corroborate teacher’s demand for pay rise, then there would be no theatrics currently playing.
There are rational premises that corroborated teachers demand and they must be put on the table when discussing teachers’ pay against other civil servants. To start with, historical injustices done to teachers are beyond discussion. For many years teachers have been discriminated and paid less salary, less allowances and at times no allowances.
Every time the teachers boycotted, one basic item was improved and it took decades to harmonize teachers’ pay with other civil servants. In many a case, the latter would be awarded pay rise and the former left-out. The case for teachers has always been fist and wrestle. Even in harmonization, a civil servant earns more than teachers since their rise through job groups is not as restrictive as teachers’. The probability that a civil servant employed the same day with a teacher earns better perks than the teacher is very certain. Can teachers demand compensation for the injustice?
Secondly, teachers work longer and restricted hours than anybody else in the country. Conventionally, a boarding school teacher reports on duty at 5.00 a.m to supervise morning activities. They work throughout the day without breaks since everything the student does has to be supervised. A day ends after 10.00 p.m when students go to sleep. A boarding matron/master has\to be on look out through the night since managing teenagers is a hard nut to crack.
In comparison, civil servants report to their offices at 9.00 a.m and in many offices are off after 3.00 p.m. Only in few cases where they extend up to 5.00 p.m. They as well have a free lunch break between 12.30 p.m to 2.00 p.m. The doors of an office close at the set time but a teacher can never post pone to respond to students even if it means working extra hours. Nobody wants to recognize this.
Thirdly, there are set parameters for evaluating a teacher’s performance. Only God knows what we go through in the hands of civil servants. There is no score schedule to monitor their evaluation.
Fourthly, all the government and parastatal offices are located in towns where there are better amenities. Very few schools boosts of the same feat. Most of the schools are located in places in the middle of nowhere. That explains why teachers are the most reliable customers to boda boda riders. Every penny they get as commuter allowance is utilized for the purpose. To civil servants, it is an added salary since they live in the very towns they work. Teachers have to incur extra cost and harsh conditions to reside at the very places.
Fifth, teachers do more than their job description. The mentorship programs, clubs, sports, supervision roles, setting and marking exams are all part of a teachers work though not recognized. If a teacher is employed to teach, what business do they have with sports, music, being pastors and counsellors? These are duties that are never paid for but they carry them anyway, and without complaining. Where will the government get money from to employ specialist in such areas?
Sixth, teachers in senior job groups are never facilitated to do their duty. Civil servants enjoy body guards, government vehicles, and conference allowances inter alia. Teachers have to dig in their pocket for same services.
Seventh, teachers earn less than anybody else of similar qualifications. A clerk in a parastatal earns double the salary of a P1 teacher with years of experience. A county government driver earns more than a teacher despite having no professional qualification. A civil servant is always a grade higher than a teacher with similar qualifications. Such disparities are never put on the debating table.
Finally, surprisingly officers working with TSC secretariat earn hefty salaries compared to teachers. Are they not employees of the same commission? Teachers become state officers only when there are demerits like a requirement to resign in pursuit of political offices. Any other time, they are worthless scoundrels. Why these disparities? It is worth noting that financially empowering teachers is tantamount to empowering the ordinary citizens. Teachers sustain most of the businesses in the local areas as the only people with reliable source of income. The matatu industry and all services related businesses bank on teachers for survival. It is therefore wisdom to pay them well and ensure better distribution of money in the public.
Critically interrogating the above facts, it is implicit that the government has all the reasons to pay teachers without considering the possible ripple effect. They can possibly bring the premises on board if anybody thinks they are discriminated against. To say the least, teachers have been held with suspicion and denied what belongs to them. I wonder where money was manufactured from to award MCAs hefty allowances and bail out capsizing firms yet no penny for teachers. It is the worst mistrust and defile of professionalism. This has to be addressed once and for final if the provision of quality education is not to be in jeopardy. Teachers arise.
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