Milestones, challenges teachers experience in their line of duty

The teaching service needs over 100,000 teachers to meet the threshold of implementing competency-based curriculum within a year. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

The world has made remarkable progress in education since 2000 when the six Education For All (EFA) goals and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were established.

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 Target 1 seeks to ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary school education. Teachers have given their best against constrained infrastructure. This has immensely alleviated illiteracy in the country, hence improving lifestyle behaviour and problem solving skills among the Kenyan population.

Head teachers and principals have fulfilled their roles in supervising implementation of the school syllabus with a curriculum tailored towards churning out a holistic learner with competencies and skills that can make them self-reliant and responsible members of the society.

The government initiated digital learning programme (DLP) out of the conviction that technology has the power to bring about systemic change in basic and higher education by transforming teaching and learning through integrating technology in the learning environment. The Covid-19 pandemic awakened the fact that technology in teaching and learning is not an option. Teachers are key players in the realisation of the teaching and learning through digital platforms, a milestone that was proven during the pandemic.

Teachers have imparted life and problem-solving skills to learners by teaching and practicing values such as integrity, honesty, responsibility and self-control, which have modelled them with critical abilities to find solutions for problems are needed in the day to day challenges facing the world.

Learners have been protected against encroachment towards early marriages, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and other negative cultural practices that retrogress the expected learning outcomes. This is done by providing data and reporting on daily occurrences of learners in schools. Where you find populated NGOs trying to lift the girl-child to achieving success, it is the teachers’ effort that was engaged in exposing the imbalance to the public.

Teachers’ have also managed to secure their position of shaping the opinion of the society when it comes to making decisions that affect them. This has been seen through their collective voice in the leadership of their unions and other welfare organisations. The unity of teachers, by extension, affects the nation's unity. The collective working of teachers, through their unions and other welfare organisations, has a significant relationship with their output in terms of performance, and that translates into quality education.

It should be noted, however, that away from the milestones, there has been an equal number of challenges. Teachers have lacked and continue to lack the necessary infrastructure in schools that should facilitate adequate teaching and learning. The 100 per cent transition policy lacks adequate classrooms, laboratories, libraries and dormitories that guarantee a conducive learning environment. This should be assured even as the new curriculum is at infancy stage.

We continue to experience a shortage of teachers in both primary and secondary schools. The teaching service needs over 100,000 teachers to meet the threshold of implementing competency-based curriculum within a year. Even as the head of state endeavours to employ 200,000 teachers in phases to curb the teachers’ shortage and under-staffing, we pray that there will be enough resources to completely address teacher shortage by 2030.

As we aspire to teach through digital platforms, we must be reminded that we are far from installing a connectivity network that puts all our learning institutions on the grid. During the Covid-19 pandemic, we realised that digital teaching and learning only happened in a few parts of our country. This was because even though many of our schools are connected to power, quite a number are yet to be reached.

This also affects the maintenance of teaching and learning gadgets such as laptops, computers and tablets since they need to be charged for them to function. So the digital learning programme will continue being a mirage if without electricity network and internet in all our schools. So, as we appreciate the immense effort the government has put in the DLP, we ask that the network be extended to all parts of the country.

The strength of any nation is what it does with its cultural diversity. We appreciate the fact that Kenya has a wealth of cultures. These cultures, however, should not be a hindrance to our growth in terms of education. Teachers have done their best in ensuring that where culture subdues education, efforts are done so that education wins.

Teachers continue to play a critical role in transforming the education agenda globally and realisation of vision 2030. They should be remembered in conventions and conferences that discuss the place of education in the society.