Among the things I’m passionate about is teaching. Having had a short stint in the profession as a college lecturer, I’m certain that, given a chance, as a “retirement” option, I will share some knowledge with a few students, and they will in turn educate me as well. It’s a two-way process. And a very fulfilling one.
Now, a close of friend of mine recently told me that he intends to find his son a place in a different high school. The boy is currently a Form 2 student in an X Secondary School in Machakos. I inquired from my friend what was wrong with the school? Were the facilities wanting? Was the food bad? Was the performance poor? He said all these things were in order. What he had a problem with were the teachers.
See, when my friend accompanied his son to school after a student’s strike. He was shocked to discover that the teachers were “way too young” and if not for the fact that they didn’t wear school uniform, he would have mistaken them for students. He recalls one who, despite it being a weekday was clad in sagging jeans, a t-shirt and sandals, going to class to teach.
Neither in his (nor my) days as a student, was this acceptable. Perhaps my friend and I are old-fashioned for demanding that teachers assume some sense of decorum. I remember when I began teaching, I had to adjust my wardrobe from something other than what I wore to class in Uni. Also, there was no way I was going to wear six-inch heels and a mini-skirt (with or without tights). But then I see some of you going to your fancy jobs dressed in that. It’s one thing to hide your thighs under an office desk from 9 to 5 and another to stand in front of young, vulnerable minds with your thighs exposed. How this is not common sense, I don’t know.
Perhaps that’s why, the students of Rwathia Secondary School got their way and had their parents and teachers give in to their demand for short, tight skirts. Did anyone bother to ask the girls exactly what purpose the new skirts would fulfill in their quest for an education and good grades? Also, why exactly did the teachers give in to this request? Would they be surprised if come next year the girls demand that the school dispensary start stocking oral contraceptive and that each student be given their ration every month?
Back to Machakos and we meet another breed of teachers who wanted to treat themselves to a trip to Mombasa. Only problem is, they didn’t have the money. So they demanded that each parent fork out Kes.2,500 to meet their expenses of this luxurious trip. All this time, the parents thought the teachers were joking. But when they didn’t pay up, their children were sent home. Now, here’s what makes me think TSC should fire these teachers if not line them up and execute them:-
1. Do these teachers realize that some of these parents cannot even afford a trip to Mombasa, and have never been to Mombasa in the first place?
2. The teachers say that the trip is “a way of motivating them to work harder and post better results.” Wait a minute? Who’s supposed to post results, is it the students of the teachers?
3. Are there more pressing needs in this school (perhaps facilities that require an upgrade) that this money would instead help meet.
4. Is this even legal? If not, can the students and their parents sue the school board?
5. What kind of example have these teachers set for their students? What will they become as employed adults? Will they go on strike when their employers fail to finance their company retreats?
I don’t know whether we are just a frustrated lot of Kenyans who cannot think clearly anymore. It’s like we’ve all lost it. And who can turn things around? Is it the students who clad in miniskirts seem to be training for a career on Koinange Street? Is it the parents who don’t mind if their daughters attract the wrong attention? Is it the teachers who would fleece their way to Mombasa? Remember the teachers are parents as well.., of some equally crazy children. Is it KNUT and KUPPET who are busy trying to get their wages sorted, and who will then claim that their members cannot afford a trip to Mombasa? Is that what they’ll strike over come 2017?
We’ve failed our children people. And they will in turn fail us, if they haven’t done so already.