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Skewed state policies undermine teaching profession

OPINION
By Wilson Sossion | April 25th 2021

Teachers are one of the most influential and powerful forces for equity, access and quality in education, and key to sustainable national development. In spite of this, the teaching profession is under siege.

It is clear that Government policies on teacher training, recruitment, retention, status, and terms and conditions of service are oppressive and discriminative. Teachers face onslaught from three arenas – social, economic, and political. The social arena encompasses value erosion, violence in schools, school and teacher bashing, and the stifling of creativity among teachers. 

Arrows from the economic arena include inadequate school funding, low pay, lack of teaching tools, inclusion of children with disabilities in regular classrooms for budget saving reasons, and lack of teacher professional development. And onslaught under the political arena include poor working conditions, lack of restructuring/reform efforts, competing paradigm of teaching and learning, fighting professionalisation of the Teaching Service, and unions being forced to lose sight of their mission.

If we have to stay focused on Unesco’s 2030 Education Agenda, unions have to fight all forms of professional and labour ills committed against teachers. Unions must resist any attempts by the National Treasury to block the Sh68 billion budget by Salaries and Remuneration Commission meant to finance salary increment for teachers in the 2021/2023 Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Teachers spend a lot of time outside school hours on extra-curriculum activities. Somehow, they manage to do all this while teaching ever increasing numbers of pupils/students in diverse classes. Largely due to their idealism, most teachers are remarkably resilient and successfully withstand a great deal of stress. But even the best teachers are only human. 

Literature on resilience suggests that when faced with too many problems at once, an individual loses hope and the ability to cope. It is not the individual arrows aimed at teachers, but the continual bombardment from many different directions that threatens to kill the teaching profession.

There is also lack of proper monitoring of normative instruments regarding the teaching profession – more so, there is no structured system of developing and reviewing of teacher policies and strategies. It should be noted that presently, there are no well cut-out policies on developing capacities for enhancing the quality of teaching and learning.

This is happening at a time when Boards of Management have engaged more than 80,000 teachers in public schools, some of whom may not be qualified and registered teachers by TSC. This has indeed compromised the standards of education.

Mr Sossion is a nominated MP and Secretary-General of Knut

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