As the world celebrated Labour Day on Monday, thousands of teachers recruited in January to teach the Junior Secondary School (JSS) pioneer class had nothing to smile about.
Most of the 35,550 recruits have not received their pay for the fourth month in a row. Of those who have been paid, most have only received a month’s salary.
The unfortunate delay has left many teachers feeling short-changed and disenfranchised as they are unable to eke out a living and provide for their dependents.
It is a shame that the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) has ignored the plight of their new workers and left them to wallow in desperation despite diligently working for them as helping to chart unfamiliar education waters by steering the new Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC).
Before their recruitment, most of the teachers were struggling to make ends meet as they wallowed in the devastation of hard economic times worsened by the unemployment crisis many unemployed graduates face. It is, thus, inhuman to expect them to survive for a long time without their dues. Most cannot pay their bills and fend for their families.
TSC should release the payments immediately and ensure they pay full salaries, together with arrears and stipends for the interns. They should also follow up on their processes and eliminate administration bottlenecks that derail their service delivery.
In retrospect, education in junior secondary schools is dogged by a litany of challenges. Staffing problems, lack of books, poor infrastructure such as classrooms and laboratories, as well as teacher unpreparedness are some of the teething problems that the schools and pioneer teachers have been grappling with.
Doing anything that will demoralise these noble workers will roll back the gains in the implementation of CBC in Grades 7-9.
The government should not only pay the teachers their dues but also confirm those employed as interns are confirmed in their positions on permanent and pensionable terms of service. The teachers have sacrificed for the Kenyan child by working on a measly stipend and deserve better than being used as cannon fodder in bridging the teacher shortage gap.
Any country that desires development must take education seriously as this is where the future generations are moulded. Teachers are central to the success of any education system and their welfare must, therefore, be taken with the seriousness it deserves.
Timothy Mwirichia, Meru