Past The Point Of No Return.
For any Kenyan teacher, doctor or nurse life is more about the calling that these professions are. One should ideally be ready to give more than receive- even that which is by law due to them. They will give their time and lives first with many years of schooling, then even more in University, eager, finally to get down to the hard but rewarding and gratifying work of saving and moulding lives. This is the picture anyone dreaming of a future in medicine and teaching must paint for themselves, and painstakingly nurse in their minds eye.
To serve humanity, impact and often change lives, a noble cause indeed.
But this long nurtured and worked for dream is quickly shattered by the harsh working conditions and almost zero like pay these young optimists will undoubtedly have to endure. When it becomes increasingly difficult to feed themselves and pay for the roof over their heads, dreams do precious little to fill a hungry belly or -if they are fortunate enough to have a family- bellies.
If one ever wants or hopes to earn a steady and even comfortable living they shouldn’t dare become a doctor or teacher or at the very least avoid- with a ten foot pole and like the plague- being hired by the government. If they are to fall into this poverty laced trap a doctor would be in for over work having to treat 6,250 ailing patients instead of the recommended 2,778 people and in return receive a pittance for their trouble.
No one then- least of all the financially tight fisted government- can blame this underpaid healers when they finally decide to step away from their Hippocratic Oath and fight instead for their own livelihood.
The teachers too continued their struggle for their dues, bravely turning deaf ears to threats of firing.
Why then, the country seemed to ask would these public school teachers be in fear of losing an extremely demanding job that was not paying in the first place?
So it came as no surprise at the end of the week when the teachers turned down the governments Luke warm offer of compensation and a three phase payment plan that just wouldn’t suffice. After the impassioned three week stand- off the teachers -who will most certainly continue to hold their ground- have reached the point of no return, from which turning back now would render their cause useless and would only serve to show the powers that be that they need only twist their arms and threaten them with joblessness to subdue them.
As part of its plan to strong arm the angry teachers the government would have to hire new educators to replace the ones they fired. To do so the power that be would have to source from teachers college students who rightly have refused to sign on and endure the same treatment that their predecessors underwent.
As that plan is out the government’s only option will be to rehire all the previously retired teachers below the age of 65, which will certainly fail because the mind forgets not its past.
At the other end of the spectrum the University lectures who also went on a two week strike of their own relented when they signed a 7.8 billion Shilling deal with the government and were promised their payment in two phases.
As the government continues to sweat in their well tailored suits over the bravery of their unpaid teachers and put the education system back together again before the annual KCPE and KCSE exams another old yet hushed problem has reared its familiar head. For all the worlds’ new technology and big ideas the problems facing the middle class and working poor in Kenya still remain unsolved.
Society and Its Elephant:
There has always been a gap between those with money and those that have to struggle to make ends meet and have a living: that is undeniable. This gap is seen everywhere on display almost daily and even though it manages sometimes to remain hidden this ever widening schism is more visible now as those parents who are fortunate enough to enrol their children in private schools – whose children continue steadily completing their previously unfinished syllabus with the help of their presumably well paid teachers- have not a complaint or worry in the world as those in public schools are left with the heavy burden of figuring it all out on their own.