Education Beyond Borders

Teachers in Kenya are now backing in class after two weeks of a nationwide strike over pay issues. The lop side of it is that students may not complete the syllabus. This is made worse by the fact that many were out of school for at least a month last year due to the post election violence.

The Teachers Service Commission may well have carried its threat carry out its threat to ‘sack the striking teacher’s en-masse’. Replacing them with inexperienced graduates and retirees would only have dealt deal a big blow to the education in public schools in Kenya. There is already a gaping performance gap between the public and private schools,

How do we make teachers liable for quality teaching, commensurate with the increased pay perks they demand? The performance of teachers has been on the spotlight: Poor performance in exams ,a vast array of professional misconduct like teachers having sexual relations with their pupils, absenteeism, cheating in exams, ham-fisted supervision.

It is no secret that there is overt glorification of mediocrity during the succinct interviews in recruitment of headmasters and school principals. No wonder most of them highly rank school fees and money matters as their primary concerns instead of improving learning outcomes.

It is high time the teaching fraternity and various teacher serving organizations carried out a bold surgery of the profession and our educational system without holding back the medicine needed to cure from the quandary of confusion we witlessly impart in our children in the name of teaching. Ask the Kenyan teacher, or any education officer about the 21st century skills and you will be shocked.

Teachers and in deed most educators in Kenya, have negligible knowledge of rubrics. Most if not all, dread evaluation of their practice. No wonder KNUT was up in arms against performance contracts- something they at no pains to delve into and understand.

Unlike medics and lawyers, teachers in Kenya do not have a professional association. Matters more important to the teaching fraternity are lost by the ever warring KNUT and KUPPET trade unions that have no more than salary negotiations in their repertoire. The two have no professional interests of teachers at heart.

KUPPET and KNUT are a replica of our own numb and skewed egotistic political ‘ideology’ that is full of vanity. This is the same approach they employ in providing resistance to Innovative Practice in Schools in preference to the already expired teacher-knows -it –all / rote learning method that does not incite inquiry in their pupils .Ever wondered why there is heightened perception about the declining status of the teacher in Kenya today? Alas, the KUPPET and KNUT membership have been very good at leading us to the Promised Land and failed to reach there themselves.

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Comment by Dan Andrew Otedo on February 1, 2009 at 15:17
In my effort to sneakily tuck a solution here and there, I may have got too carried away by emotions about the situation in Kenya .I was privileged to be invited by Mali Bain and K Noble when you people were giving your report to KIE.(if you remember the guy who was busy taking photos)I would be glad to know what they have done with it so far.

I hope my criticism is not overly negative, but is borne both out of a desire for improvement and the frustration of a person lacking the charisma to inspire change. As a starting point you definately have a professional organization of teachers in your country. How do they compare to KNUT and KUPPET in Kenya?
Comment by Sharon Peters on February 1, 2009 at 9:14
Dan, you address many concerns in your post, but do not offer any suggestions for how to improve the situation in Kenya. This online space is designed to address the needs of teachers around the globe. Specifically, how can Teachers Without Borders make a difference in Kenya? We Canadians observed many of the issues you address and we were asked by the KIE to deliver a report - which we did. Overhauling a system as large as an educational system takes time. A combination of support from the grassroots as well as from the top is probably the best approach. In order for that to take place, educators at every level must be given a sense of empowerment and voice.
Again, I ask, how can Teachers Without Borders provide support that goes beyond criticism of a system?

I look forward very much to your response.


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