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Motivate teachers so that they can improve our education standards

Ziporah Boyani, a Grade 4 class teacher at Royal Metropolis Academy in Nyamira teaches her pupils. [Stanley Ongwae, Standard]

In the words of Malcolm X, education is the most powerful weapon that can be used to change the world. The world is celebrating the essence of education in its transformation towards, and in conformity with the changing trends.

Teachers have been lauded for their creativity in awakening of joy and knowledge in learners through teaching and learning. The resilience of teachers towards challenges and difficulties within the profession has seen them produce talent and competencies among our children. In the words of Henry Brooks Adams, Teachers affect eternity; they can never tell where their influence stops. To date, there are learners who still admire the way their teachers talked, dressed and behaved. These teachers modelled character and behaviour.

There is growing concern over desired changes in education in terms of accessibility, affordability, quality, provision of new technological platforms for teaching and learning and inspiring competencies. The Kenyan teacher should be equipped to be able to handle the new phase of education that informed the UNESCO theme for the 2022 World Teachers Day Celebration; 'The transformation of education begins with the teacher'. The ideal situation here is to celebrate the great work and achievements by teachers in inculcating positive character attributes and attitudes to all of us. The framers of this theme know very well that the teacher is a solid foundation of every individual for life success.

The role teachers played during and after the Covid-19 pandemic cannot be underestimated. We saw them maintain WHO protocols, when everyone was scared to mingle in the public for fear of contacting the deadly virus; teachers were there and some of them even paid the ultimate price. Our teachers have and continue to be involved in setting and administration of various examinations within the past year through the Kenya National Examinations Council even with the challenges witnessed.

All these examinations were undertaken well, marked on time and results released to the public within a record time. On this we congratulate all teachers for their hard work. 2022 alone has five national examinations; KCSE in April and November/December and KCPE in April and November December and the first ever Kenya Primary School Education Assessment. This calls for dedication and commitment from our teachers so that success can be achieved.

Government has done commendably well in trying to provide the framework to facilitate teaching and learning although so much still needs to be done considering the fact that with the coming in of a new curriculum, there is need to have a proper mechanism of ensuring that ILO and UNESCO recommendations in terms of teacher/ learner ratio, class sizes, teaching and learning instruments are met. What seems to beckoning for more attention from the powers that be is attention on the real persons who play the main role in implementing the process of teaching and learning.

Teachers must be well trained by the employer if better results are to be expected from them. They must be provided with the best teaching and learning infrastructure so as to bring out the best products. They must feel safe at their places of work by feeling protected by their employer and government from external attacks.

They must be exposed to opportunities of growth in the profession and be identified and honoured for the exemplary work they do for the nation. This year, the government feted our good teachers with more medals- away from the traditional Head of State Commendation - and went to award them the Order Of the Golden Warrior (OGW) and the Member of the Burning Spear. We believe we can get more as teachers for what we do away from the salaries since our work cannot be quantified.

One thing therefore comes out clearly as we discuss transformation of education; we must invest in the new technology besides building traditional learning infrastructure. We must also, as a nation, invest in training our personnel so that they can comfortably and with confidence handle the envisioned changes. So, as we plan to storm into the new world order in education with the SDG 4 in mind and the quest to have accessible, affordable and quality education to all, we must have the implementers of the changes from the classroom at the epicenter of it all, and that is the teacher.

In aligning ourselves as Kenyan teachers to the 2022 World Teachers Day theme of Transformation of Education with teachers in the lead, there are key and fundamental issues that must be looked into by both government and the employer. One of these is paying teachers well. The 60 per cent salary review proposal by Knut in the 2021-2025 CBA should therefore be considered. The government should also employ the 58,000 teachers as promised in the education charter to address the understaffing and heavy workload being experienced. The infrastructure in all our public primary and secondary schools should be improved by building where there is a deficit and improving the dilapidated ones.

In addition, the bottlenecks in the implementation of CBC should be identified and addressed. Finally, education policies that seem to be dragging back the sector such as delocalisation of teachers should be reviewed. If this is done, teachers will do their best to alleviate ignorance and transform education in Kenya.