New education minister should improve the welfare of teachers

Ezekiel Machogu

Former Nyaribari Masaba MP Ezekiel Machogu. He has been nominated by President William Ruto as the next Education Cabinet Secretary.


Photo credit: Ruth Mbula | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Teachers, parents and students alike are losing faith in the ministry. Redeem back their faith if you can.
  • The reviving of practical learning areas like home science, music and art and craft was a great idea. I agree our country faces a challenge in the provision of curriculum support materials.
  • This challenge isn’t unique to CBC nor is it unique to Kenya. As an expert, I don’t support the calls to scrap a competent curriculum for lack of a few resources.

To the new Cabinet Secretary for Education, first, congratulations on your appointment.

As an educator, I consider myself a stakeholder in the ministry you are leading. In fact, to a common Kenyan classroom teacher like me, the ministry affects my career the most through its policies and programmes.

I am the implementer of the ministry's policies.

A decade ago, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) in collaboration with the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) began implementing the Competency-Based Curriculum.

The implementation has not been without challenges. Apparently, we the educators, parents and the larger public are looking up to you as the new minister to solve the puzzle around the transition from primary school to junior secondary.

We urge you to consult widely before issuing any direction on this matter. At one point, your predecessor directed that junior secondary school classrooms be constructed in secondary schools, while at another point he opined that the grade 6 children could remain in their current primary schools.

These suggestions, opinions and directives that contradicted themselves are the cause of confusion and actually the reason the public thinks we should do away with the CBC. 

Personally, I'm still wondering why we should leave two empty classrooms in primary schools since primary school years are being reduced by two only to construct the same number of new classrooms in secondary schools.

Well, I'm not an economist. However, as a teacher, I have no problem with the location of a classroom.

What matters to me is the curriculum taught in whichever classroom and how it is delivered. Remember that another transition from junior secondary to senior secondary is fast approaching.

And kindly this time round, unlike your predecessor, spend more time consulting. You would rather consult for a year and implement in a week than consult in a week then unsuccessfully try to implement in a year.

Losing faith

Teachers, parents and students alike are losing faith in the ministry. Redeem back their faith if you can.

In my opinion, CBC is a great curriculum. I have interacted with the CBC pedagogical approaches and I agree they are in tandem with the global trends.

The reviving of practical learning areas like home science, music and art and craft was a great idea. I agree our country faces a challenge in the provision of curriculum support materials.

This challenge isn’t unique to CBC nor is it unique to Kenya. As an expert, I don’t support the calls to scrap a competent curriculum for lack of a few resources.

For instance, shall we wait until all schools construct a swimming pool before we can introduce physical education in our schools?

I know you have met parents who are bitter about being overworked with assignments when they ought to be resting.

That is exactly how competent curricula are designed; to promote learning through thorough parental engagement. Parents will just have to understand this and take their parental engagement role positively.

The teachers of this country are exhausted. The crash programme meant to recover the time we lost during the pandemic has seen school holidays shortened from the usual three weeks to less than a week.

As if that is not enough, our employer has scheduled an in-service training for us dubbed Teacher Professional Development (TPD) over that brief holiday, at our own cost!

Do not forget that we are delocalised and most of us are separated from our families. Holiday is, therefore, the only time the Kenyan teachers have to travel home and reunite with their families. Kindly rethink delocalisation.

We appreciate that our good employer has our professional development at heart. However; we draw the line when such training threatens to break our families.

Teachers don’t earn much in this country and even if they did, the employer should bear the cost of training her staff and should do so at an appropriate time.

The crash programme is soon coming to an end; in fact in 2023 we will resume our normal school calendar. Why can’t our employer be a little patient until the school calendar normalises before she can train us?

The time will be enough then as the holidays will span for at least three weeks. The employer could have made plans on how to meet the costs of the programme as well.

On the integrity of the national examinations, your predecessor did pretty well; we all hope to see you keep the fire burning.

It is immoral for lazy students to corrupt their way to higher learning institutions, it is equally shameful for adults to aid students to carry out this heinous act.

On this, do not hesitate to crack the whip whenever you must. The future of a generation is at stake if we compromise the integrity of our education. 

Finally, as you take your new role, our expectations are high; you may or may not meet them all. Either way, we will appreciate it if you do your best, be you and do you. Good luck!

The writer is a teacher of English and Literature for both local and international curricula. [email protected]

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