A Disappointing Breed of Kenyan Teachers

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.

How Are You Taking Part in the National Mourning?

As you are aware, the government has declared the next three days, national days of morning following the deaths of Hon. Saitoti and Hon. Ojode.

It’s unfortunate that past the age of 18, very many Kenyans don’t know what to do with themselves when the government sets aside days of National Mourning. Most of us think it’s a public holiday. We actually hope it is a public holiday. So we can sleep, watch movies, go to Naivasha, get high, spend all our money and do anything else, BUT mourn.

Perhaps we don’t know how to mourn. Or maybe we think that the deceased are usually too far removed from us. So we give various excuses : “I didn’t personally know the guy “. “I feel nothing.” “I’m too ninja to cry for three days.”  “I hated that guy.”

I’m no expert in National Mourning. But I can tell that it is not Christmas Day and neither is it a State of Emergency. I also know, that whether we are mourning or not, we must go to work. And because I’m no expert mourner, I hope that you, dear reader can contribute your ideas and suggestions at the tail end of this post. Please do.

National Mourning at Work?

On a state level, national mourning is denoted by flags flying at half mast. In some countries, when the government declares national mourning, public events are cancelled or postponed. On the other hand, the 4th estate give us more shoddily done news, filled with eulogies and dirges. They also give us a chance to call in, email or sms our heartfelt condolences.

Beyond that, what else can we do?

Now, not every Kenyans has a flag outside their doorstep (but that’s not so say that we are not patriotic. We are damn well patriotic, when our athletes win a marathon abroad.)

But the question remains: How can we make an individual contribution to  national mourning in this country? Because whether we like it or not death is inevitable, mourning comes with death.

If you care, like I do, I think that this an area where the Ministry of National Heritage and Culture (does it still exist?) would shed some light on the issue. Them that gave us the National Dress at a cost of 50million. Brand Kenya can also offer some ideas. Besides, aren’t they the ones that advertise all the things that make us proud and that unite us as Kenyans? Perhaps the clergy can also offer some ideas. They’ve done really well with the National Day of Prayer. Surely, if they can get us to pray as a nation, they can show us how best to mourn as well.

I don’t know.., what are your thoughts? How are you taking part in the 3 days of National Mourning?

Osama Bin Ading’

I haven’t been on an aeroplane since I was nine years old.

No actually, I have. I spent about twenty minutes on  a Cessna between Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam about a year ago.

But other than that domestic flight to Kisum’ City [but do I say!] I haven’t been off the ground except to jump.

So I was fairly excited about my first international flight. To Dar.

Being a writer, I figured an airport would be the perfect place for me. Duty free shopping, lots of accents, and all those strange people to watch. I was sure I’d find fodder for a script, or at least meet some guy who looks like Tom Hanks.

Instead I was claustrophobic and cold, and I realised that ‘duty-free’ Baileys costs less at Mwalimu Wine Agencies in town. It’s offical: I hate airports. Continue reading