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PARADIGM SHIFT

Covid-19 shows value of teachers, farmers

Coronavirus has let us in on what we have wrong: Understanding and priorities.

In Summary
  • Imagine if we paid them well so that all our A-children, when asked, they would say, “I want to be a farmer”.
  • Most A-students want to be neurosurgeons, doctors. But now there are no patients, yet people need food.
A teacher in class.
A teacher in class.
Image: FILE

We have been living a lie.

We pay doctors and health workers a good salary—most, not all. Many are still in the trenches fighting for better pay, which they deserve and should get,  but Covid-19 has emptied hospitals of clients.

We pay our politicians hefty salaries for no reason at all. There is no particular qualification or achievement to be a politician. In Kenya, you just need to be a loud-mouthed and ruthless wheeler-dealer, belong to the right party and be a mindless loyalist to the party leader.

Now we realise, the people we should have paid more  are our farmers and agriculturalists—the people who feed us. They ensure we have enough nutritious food to keep us satisfied and away from doctors. We short-change them at our own peril.

They stay home (on the farm) with little movement, if any, and farming keeps them busy hence social distancing. After farming they wash their hands and eat well at home. Farm work keeps them active and healthy they don’t need gyms like us urban-dwelling suave white collar labourers.

Imagine if we paid them well so that all our A-children, when asked, they would say, “I want to be a farmer”. Most A-students want to be neurosurgeons, doctors. But now there are no patients, yet people need food. Those of us who came to Nairobi and “have jobs” are being laid off by the hour, and are living on handouts.

Yet we take teachers for granted. Imagine if we paid these people handsomely, again so our A-students would wish to be teachers. Imagine that from Early Childhood Development Education we, and our kids, are taught by A-teachers. Primary schools have teachers with bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Imagine the scholarly research and writing that would be emerging across the country, providing sound solutions to local challenges and practical education.

The inverse title of these thoughts is actually, ‘Kenyans, our current lifestyle is not sustainable!’

The next batch of people we should have paid handsomely are, guess who? Teachers.

How has it been staying with your beautiful kids at home for two-and-a-half months? How has it been taking them through homework, revision, ensuring they have a timetable, and it’s followed; that they are not out playing and being truants?

One fellow parent told me he’s struggling to wake his kids up before 9am. It has taken local chiefs to keep some of our children in the house, even with government requirement to stay home. And how is e-learning going? Administering and marking exams?

 

Yet we take teachers for granted. Imagine if we paid these people handsomely, again so our A-students would wish to be teachers. Imagine that from Early Childhood Development Education we, and our kids, are taught by A-teachers. Primary schools have teachers with bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Imagine the scholarly research and writing that would be emerging across the country, providing sound solutions to local challenges and practical education.

The bulk of our exam results range between grades C- and E. The majority of our examinees are below average. Our educational curriculum and pedagogy must change. Covid-19 has let us in on what we have wrong: Understanding and priorities.

If we put A-teachers in our school system, not just at university and some secondary level, but from kindergarten, what paradigm shift and dramatic change that would bring.

Our Ds and Es would vanish, and we will start having more A and B students, enough people to distribute across all professions and vocations and may be even pay politicians who are qualified in something.

We would have no slums. Less poverty. Better religion. And, generally, a much higher quality of life.

Informationist

Tea farmers in Kisii county uproot crop following low returns.
Tea farmers in Kisii county uproot crop following low returns.
Image: COURTESY