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Improve teachers' salaries to boost their morale even further

Opinion
 A well-remunerated teacher is a well-motivated teacher. [iStockphoto]

World Teachers' Day was observed on October 5, 2023. The ceremony was traditionally hosted by the Teachers Service Commission at the Kenya School of Government in Kabete.

The Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) held the post-celebration event on October 10 at the Kitui Teachers Training College. This day honours teachers around the globe and celebrates their contribution to shaping the future of teaching and learning.

Indeed all the events were and continue to be about teachers, their challenges, achievements and prospects.

This day marks the anniversary of the adoption of the 1966 ILO and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) Recommendation - concerning the status of teachers.

The Unesco recommendation helped set benchmarks regarding the rights and responsibilities of teachers and standards for their initial preparation and further education, recruitment, employment, teaching and learning conditions.

According to Unesco, the recommendation concerning the Status of Higher Education Teaching Personnel was adopted in 1997 to complement the 1966 recommendation by covering teaching personnel in higher education.

Our Kitui celebrations were top-notch; with entertainment that included poems, songs, and all manner of folk dance. Teachers exhibited their prowess in preparing all the presentations, demonstrating their selflessness with which they work to identify, nurture and build learners talents.

The love shown by teachers to the ongoing education reforms was exhilarating. They sighted order with the recommendations to align arrangements for administration and placement of the newly introduced levels of learning in the comprehensive schools.

This year's theme, 'The teachers we need for the education we want: The global imperative to reverse the teacher shortage', informed the discourse of both the celebrations at the Kenya School of Government and that at the Knut’s organised Post-World Teachers Day, especially on the importance of stopping the decline in the number of teachers.

In that regard, we must appreciate the Kenya Kwanza government’s interventions in ensuring that our dreams and aspirations in the education sector are met. The government has contracted over 45,000 teachers and employed 11,000 teachers on permanent and pensionable terms over one year.

The formation of the Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms (PWPER), which looked at several areas in the sector and gave recommendations that will lay critical grounds for review of several laws affecting education was a welcome move. This was an indicator that the current regime values, respects and holds education and educators in high regard.

We must never forget that a well remunerated teacher is a well-motivated teacher. Even if we trained, tooled and re-tooled, caused an impactful and modern teacher; we need to pay them well. In the CBA 2017-2021; teachers got a salary award that cushioned them against inflation. We thereafter signed a cashless CBA 2021-2023 and later managed to review it in respect to the clause 24 of the same to address the salary component. The seven to 10 per cent salary award we secured from the employer was welcome though we had made a demand of 60 per cent. We still look forward to opportunities we can exploit to have teachers’ pay improved before the lapse of this CBA period.

The education we want is one that will grow our learners holistically. We need modernised education that will make us compete favourably with other countries. This calls on the government to invest heavily on infrastructure development in the education sector, such as classrooms, laboratories, dormitories, libraries, electricity and internet connectivity. We want education that will impact and cause relevance of the professionals we produce in the growing world labour market. It is only then that we shall meet global standards.

We, however, are quick to note that there are still some gaps that demand focus. The current capitation is not commensurate with the cost of living. The government must make deliberate efforts to review upwards the current capitation to enable schools to function optimally. We also recommend that disbursement of the funds be done in such a way that it will enable schools to manage their obligations.

The need to continuously review education policies that injure the education sector is imperative. The policy development procedures should be in such a way that they serve the purpose of improving service delivery. Policies such as delocalisation, deployment of teachers to administrative positions and identification and deployment of teachers to Junior Secondary School were hurriedly done and ended up punishing educators and their families instead of improving their productivity.

Moving forward, Kenya should embrace best practices adopted the world over. All stakeholders in the sector must be encouraged to work together for success. Policies should be developed so that they trigger creativity and innovation in the sector and support sector plans for success. We must professionalise policy development and depoliticise management of education.

 

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