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Why lecturers' strike was resolved faster than doctors'
By Martin Kurgat | Updated Mar 27, 2017 at 08:06 EAT

Ever since public university lecturers called off their 54-day strike, some "unforgettable" lessons must be learned by all Kenyans. The two-month strike was the most genuine ever.

Other public servants should heed the maturity displayed by the lecturers in future. For that reason, therefore, their demands and actions had basis to warrant positive response from the Government.

They applied pressure on the Government reasonably.

Their proposed increment was realistic, compared to that of medical staff who wanted up to 300 per cent.

The lecturers' demands were well anchored – for the common good and considering the state of the economy. They were not so costly as to bring friction and conflict during the negotiations.

The lecturers also seemed to understand the way to go and that is why their mission was soberly and amicably solved without much delay.

The lengthy doctors' defiance that lasted over 100 days, however, was indeed a factor not to be ignored. Today, doctors are at it again, giving the Health ministry new conditions.

The lecturers seemed to have forwarded a reasonable and well-calculated percentage in their demands, unlike the doctors, who had unconditionally offered to bargain no less than 300 per cent.

This was seen by the Government as total madness, as it was extremely high.

Indeed, the Government, lecturers' union and universities' managements demonstrated some sense of patriotism and nationalism when they found the way forward in the negotiations.

This kind of understanding would in return bring hope to our children; the students whose education and training was at stake.

Teaching resumed and as a result, quality delivery will hopefully be witnessed through motivated teaching staff.

However, it is up to the Government to budget for higher education, which is vital for national development and growth.

It should inject more money into educational infrastructure and research if socio-economic developments have to be achieved.

State capitation was reduced in the 1990s as Module II programmes that aimed at raking in extra revenue for universities were introduced.

Unfortunately, the programme where privately sponsored students is in trouble due to the fact that our universities are no longer progressing with quality education.

The major challenges are corruption, nepotism and mismanagement of the institutions' financial resources.

For this reason, new financial models that are sustainable are called-for.

Other than the lecturers' better pay, there must be seen to be in place an effort to improve the teaching and learning environment to avoid future strikes whether by the staff or the students.

In the recent past, we have noticed a turning point; members of university councils are being appointed after following due process unlike in the past where they were hand-picked. 

They come from ethnic communities across the land of Kenya and the trend is really encouraging to the nation and the university staff who for decades have yearned for reforms of this kind.

Today, with new councils, universities are living in the hope that the newly appointed bodies are ready and expected to play an oversight role, approve new education policies and budgets, among other roles.

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