Teachers’ Strike: A Leadership Test, Part I

by on Sep.30, 2015, under Leadership

September 2015 was a sad month in the education sector; we watched students teaching fellow students in classrooms across the nation because teachers were on strike, we heard the cries of the parents who sacrificed all they had to pay fees for their children hoping that they will go to school and learn, God willing, have a bright future that their parents did not have. The little adorable acrobat and student, Wendy Waeni speaking on Jeff Koinage Live on Thursday 24th September 2015, lamented the fact the despite the much effort students have invested in their studies if they do not sit for the end of year examination they may have to repeat next year. She begged the teachers to go back to class. One parent said recently, he had paid fees with all the money he had but the children were sent back home and he did not have any money to feed them. The strike presented the nation with an excellent opportunity to show leadership. It is in difficult times that a Martin Luther or a Churchill emerged. Kenya still waits for such a leader. Meanwhile I am the only teacher who never strikes, I have marked the nation’s leadership test and the results are as follows:-

1. Parents who think Schools are Babysitting Centres – 0%

During the strike I heard some parents say, when we are at work or away from the house we do not know what the children are doing in the house. Such parents think that teachers are babysitters hence they send their children to school to be minded by the teachers. That was the saddest thing I heard from parents in a long time. Those kind of parents should accompany their children to school, they need some education too. On wonder we have many students in schools that are not ready to learn, they came to play and socialize. Their parents have no leadership skills at all; they have to micromanage the children. In Leadership they score zero (0%).

2. KNUT & KUPPET – 5%

KNUT and KUPPET represent the intelligentsia of our nation but on the leader front their acts are not so intelligent. They assume that we cannot read the constitution by ourselves. They urge the government to obey the court since it is the creation of the Constitution. When the same courts, ordered them to stop the strike immediately, they said wait a minute, we need time to deliberate on this. They forgot that a few days back they wanted us to believe that the government does not obey the court hence the constitution, when it called for more time before the implementation of the court order.

Talking about the Constitution, the Constitution established Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) to advise the government including Teachers Service Commission (TSC) on remuneration of the public officers of which teachers are part of, so why do the unions question SRC’s role yet it is embedded in the same constitution they have been advising us to obey. The teachers they represent demand that students learn to solve their problems without resulting to strikes, notwithstanding that sometime the students have valid reasons to go on strike. In essence the teachers tell the students to ‘do as they say not as they do’. That is the worst of instruction. The teachers’ unions should promote high educations stands, yet they are known for resisting the Performance management contracting and implementation. They score 5% because some taught otherwise they deserved less.

3. The Media – 10%

The media is the mirror of society; it shapes the public opinion and it is the watchdog of the public interest. It is a noble role that is currently performed ignobly. There is a problem with the way objectivity has been cheapened in the media, in Kenya objectivity is achieved when an ODM (opposition) and Jubilee (government) MP debate each other on a given issue. Irrespective of the moral and competencies of the debaters, they will be invited. The criteria is one ODM and one Jubilee representative. On the teachers’ strike I was taken aback when the media asked the public whether the president lied to the nation during his speech on the teachers’ strike. I wondered who is supposed to dig for the facts and present them to the public to make the judgement. If the media has no capability to give the nation accurate figures and information on wages and sugar consumption, then we must admit that we have an incompetent media. The media should give us credible statistics but instead they feed us hypes, we are not going to build a nation based on hypes. Once the teachers are back in class the media will shelve that story just like it did with the Uganda sugar importation and insecurity, yet teachers are not paid. For lack of thoroughness and thought leadership the media score 10%.

4. Judiciary – 15%

My understanding as both a HR Practitioner and a Strategist is that a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) once signed is bidding. Based on it the court may enforce its implementation. If this is the case then, the court did not overstep its mandate by calling the employer (government) to account. What every employer feared was that the court had gotten into the business of determining who should be paid what and by when, I want to believe that this is not what the court did. The court only asked the government to honour what it agreed to in the CBA. The only challenge with the court’s award was to demand the government to pay the teachers immediately. This is judicial activism taken too far to a level of sabotaging the government of which judiciary is part of. Either the judges are unaware of the government budgeting cycle or they are practising blind activism. The new constitution gives us much faith in the courts hence the margin for error is too small, Judiciary scores 15%.

Part II will complete the list of actors.

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