Failure to organise even a single event to mark World Teachers Day speaks volumes on how Kenyan teachers have been neglected.
October 5, every year, has been set aside to celebrate the role played by teachers in the society. Unfortunately, Kenyan teachers are a neglected lot.
“Empowering teachers, building sustainable societies” being this year’s World Teachers Day theme also spoke volume on the need by the country to take the profession seriously and give it the attention it deserves.
Teachers celebrated their day just a day after a strike, which paralysed teaching in public schools, was called off. The industrial action had been called to push for higher salaries after the Employment and Labour Relations Court ruled in favour of the same.
The Government has been adamant but the dispute is still in court.
As the world teachers marks their annual day, their Kenyan counterparts have gone back to school a disgruntled lot.
The World Teachers Day was inaugurated by Unesco in 1994 with an aim of providing an opportunity to draw public attention to the role teachers play within the society.
The fete further aimed at mobilising support for teachers, and to ensure the need of posterity will continue to be met by teachers.
In Kenya, this day has not received much attention because it came soon after the nationwide strike, which put the teachers in collision course with the Government.
However, for the last few years some activities have been organised to mark the day.
It is usually the role of teachers’ unions to mobilise members through public meetings. Indeed the day should be marked by all because issues of teachers cut across the board.
There are many pertinent issues affecting teachers. Apart from the issues of bread and butter, the problem of understaffing is impacting negatively on quality of teaching in public schools.
Teachers in government schools are not only overloaded but highly de-motivated therefore they cannot perform effectively.
The Government has to look at employing enough quality teachers and ensuring there are enough quality tools in schools.
There is a biting teachers shortage and the Government should, instead of thinking of recruiting relief teachers, be working out ways of employing all the trained and qualified teachers languishing in villages.
Since the freeze of teachers employment more than a decade ago and subsequent introduction of free primary education and free secondary education, there has been an upsurge of learners in public schools thereby overworking teachers.
It is an open secret that in the recent past, a number of teachers have left service for greener pastures and we cannot bury our heads in the sand. This high turnover of teachers moving to county governments and NGOs obviously means quality of education in public schools suffer.
There are also other critical issues that are affecting the profession. Security for example is a challenge that has made it hard to keep school safe in the wake of heightened terrorism activities.
Among other challenges are students’ discipline, promotion of teachers, training and Government’s apathy.
Kenyan teachers should demand a decent, secure and conducive working environment - that also is child friendly, appropriate size, adequate teaching/learning tools and a good pay.
Although WTD was not marked due to obvious reasons, it is a constant reminder of the critical role played by teachers and an important opportunity for all and sundry to show our support and gratitude for the present generation of teachers and posterity.