45% of teachers in Kenya would like to leave the profession because of the appalling conditions.

Bonafice, a teacher in Lodwar, Turkana, Kenya, says ‘Teaching is more than just a profession, it’s also a calling. Photo: Karel Prinsloo/ARETE/UNESCO

Bonafice, a teacher in Lodwar, Turkana, Kenya, says ‘Teaching is more than just a profession, it’s also a calling. Photo: Karel Prinsloo/ARETE/UNESCO

According to a survey by Education International (EI), 45% of teachers in Kenya would like to leave the profession because of the appalling conditions and low pay which are both making their work impossible.

20% of teachers do a second job, just in order to make ends meet, even though this is not permitted by the government, and only 50% agreed with the statement that their pay covered their basic needs.

Wilson Sossion, the General Secretary of the Kenyan National Union of Teachers (KNUT) and newly appointed President of the African region of EI, said: ‘Thousands of teachers get broke barely a week after receiving their salaries and many more have to survive on one meal a day after the 10th day of the pay. By the 15th day, they are asking for salary advances, borrowing from neighbours and begging for goods and services on credit.’ Sossion added that the union comes across many cases of teachers being evicted from their houses because of rent arrears.

Class sizes are commonly over 100 and conditions in schools are bad with many lacking teaching materials and even sanitation. This situation is not untypical for the global South, but it graphically points up the cynicism of the World Bank and other education ‘reformers’ who routinely blame teachers for perceived failures of public schooling, even as they starve it of funds. In so far as funds are provided, they are often earmarked for accountability measures like performance related pay or standardised testing – or, in the case of Kenya, an expensive and ill thought out ‘laptops for schools‘ scheme. Meanwhile teachers go hungry and learning conditions for children are dire.

Quite how dire the conditions can get, is illustrated by the plight of teachers from the North Eastern region of Kenya, who have been camping out at KNUT headquarters, because they fear for their lives after many of their colleagues were massacred in December.

It would be good to see some of the well-heeled World Bank economists who are pontificating about education and the poor quality of teachers, walking in the shoes of Kenyan public school teachers. This writer doubts if they would last a day, leave alone the many years of service that most teachers in Kenya give.


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Teacher Solidarity

Teacher Solidarity is an independent website which records the resistance to education "reform" of teachers, their unions, communities and researchers, who are fighting to defend public and democratic education.

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