The teachers are on strike, again. This has been happening for years. They will be promised certain conditions, go to class and strike again when the promise is not fulfilled. Everyone needs to clothe their children, pay bills, feed their family members and provide for other essentials and luxuries. That part I understand and sympathize with. What I don’t really understand is why they picked third term of all academic terms.
In Kenya, this is the term when the various national exams happen. For the KCSE candidates the exams start end of October. This is the time they should be polishing up and consulting with their teachers. Some schools are behind on the syllabus and this is the time they should be making huge strides to finish up. Some of the schools were closed but some schools are still open especially boarding schools. Students are learning by themselves and revising for the exams. I was in school just the other day and I promise you that without teachers around nothing fruitful happens in class. Students will sleep, give stories and mimic teachers as the rest laugh and many other non-educative things.
I am not against the strike I just think the timing was so wrong. Strike in 2nd term only backlash you will get from students is that they missed the music festivals or St. John functions. Better yet strike in first term when there is nothing major happening in school. I think that there is a better way for this. Imagine you are about to file your tax returns then KRA personnel decide that this is the best time to strike or go on a go slow. They come back two days to deadline and you can’t file anything and they won’t extend the deadline and they fine you. That is exactly what you are doing to the students.
I would like to think that the teachers have children in public school. They may not care a lot if their kid is in class five or in private school. They may tell themselves that they are teachers and can tutor their children during this time but that is not what Kenya wants. Parents countrywide have given you this responsibility to guide their children and better yet make them pass exams. The teachers are around 288,000 and with the average of 1 teacher per 50 students, that deprives 14,400,000 students their right to education. The students have done nothing wrong but it is like they are the ones being punished.
This brings into question the level of reliability of the teachers. In some schools the teachers do not come in and when they do they don’t do much. Your leader Mr. Sossion is shining right now by having orchestrated the strike but where does that leave you? Scratch that, he is actually not shining because he should represent you totally without dragging you into his mess. He should try and get a deal for you people as you continue doing your jobs. At this point you are helping him do his job as your classes are gathering dust. You are only as good as your best student who at this moment is wondering why he is seated in a nearly empty classroom trying to cram a set book without you present.
The other thing is that you are told to go back to school and that your strike is not protected but you don’t listen. You are what the pupils you teach are looking at. You are an authoritative figure and because you do not listen they will not listen to you. This issue cannot be solved by both sides failing to follow instructions. You have to know your stand in society and mirror what expected of you. The children are expecting you in class. They do not understand the nitty gritties of the situation let Mr. Sossion do the job he was elected to do and go back to your desk and teach your students.
Strikes will always happen. Look, even the nurses are on go slows but timing is very important and so is the method of conflict resolution. Definitely something to think about.