The teachers is now on its third week and both the tutors’ and government seems to be digging in for the long haul. The stakes are at all time high. Unlike other teachers’ strikes in the past where tutors fight for an undefined percentage rise, everybody can see the figures involved in this one. Besides, teachers are, apparently, on the right side of the law so far. But the inescapable truth is that the government’s line is that teachers’ leaders have refused to negotiate a court order that requires the TSC to start partial payment of the 50-60 per cent pay rise!
The tempo with which the Jubilee government is crunching the numbers and rendering their case that only a tax raise can generate the Sh1.4 billion needed to kick start the teachers’ pay is convincing even the sceptics that we are on the verge of economic collapse. Tragically, many naïve wananchi are falling for this sophism and regarding teachers like economic saboteurs.
Scores of busybodies are crawling out of the woodwork to give free counsel in the media on how to cut down teachers to size. In deed, one politician is on record for likening Knut secretary general Wilson Sossion with the al Shabaab! While many commentators can be excused for ignorance, it’s tragic that some seemingly educated people like lawyers, bankers, NGO operatives and civil society denizens are furthering flimsy arguments in support of teachers’ eternal poverty.
By its studious refusal to pay teachers and surprising penchant for court cases in this matter, the Jubilee administration doesn’t seem to be in need of political goodwill just yet and least of all from teachers; it bends backwards to accommodate MPs and MCAs hefty perks and it is progressively giving in to our governors’ imperial excesses. It’s instructive that the same government has found enough resources to award police officers a hefty pay rise that would see the lowest cadre of cops, after six months training in police academy, earn a basic salary of Sh32,000. A P1 teacher starts with Sh16,000 after putting in three years in college.
If the government can psyche the public on the jigger menace, illicit brews, drugs, road carnage and environmental conservation with the gusto with which it has focused everybody on the teachers apparent threat, we can tackle all these issues once for all in mere months.
Certainly, some people at the Teachers Service Commission, The National Treasury, The State Law Office and Jogoo House are not getting sufficient sleep as they frantically up the propaganda to break the teachers strike. We can safely say here some people are earning their salaries, rightfully, courtesy of their stress levels in the last few weeks!
The government is salaciously explaining that if it grants teachers the pay awarded by the industrial court, other cadres of civil servants would follow suit. And to drive the point home, it equated teachers pay demands to the catchy allegory of going the Greece (economic) way! The government slogans, “can’t pay won’t pay,” is getting localised in some FM radio stations and public places with devastating consequences to Uhuruto’s administration; in this one Wanjiku is quizzical of the extra ordinary act of disregarding the supreme court’s ruling that gave teachers the pay award.
In their banal caricature of the teachers as hyenas, vultures and myriad obnoxious animals, some ultra hawkish and neophyte Jubilee lieutenants have reduced the teachers’ pay woes to a slanging match. The same brilliance should be adopted in explaining what devolution and vision 2030 are to the masses. When we break down these concepts to the masses in their own images and diction, and more importantly define their roles in them, Kenyan is bound to become an African Tiger in record time.
May all the experts who are currently giving free advice on how to break teachers’ strike kindly lend their awesome intellectual might to rallying us on sustainable solutions to the many national problems around us. This is because the teachers pay rise is not sustainable now and in the foreseeable future and they had better the issue rest!
Kariuki teaches at Nyandarua high school, Ol Kalou.