Our Chief Guest, Dr David Okello from Kenyatta University,
Members of the National Executive Board,
Branch Executive Secretaries Present,
Members of the Branch Executive Councils,
Distinguished Partners, Invited Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen –
Let me take this opportunity to thank you all for finding the time to join us in marking the World Teachers Day 2020. We are greatly honoured to have Dr Okello, who is a leading educator and researcher from the Kenyatta University, here with us. Thank you very much, daktari.
Allow me to also welcome our Executive Secretaries: Musembi Katuku from Machakos, Eliud Wanjohi from Nakuru, John Mburu from Murang’a, James Kimani from Kiambu, Zaddock Kisienya from Kajiado, Charles Ng’eno from Narok and Owiti Mbora from Nairobi and their delegations.
This is an important day in the global education calendar. It is a time for educators, governments and policy-makers to recognise the great contributions teachers make in educating our children and to our shared prosperities. It is a day to reflect on the state of the teaching profession, the challenges teachers face, as well as potential strategies for improving their working conditions and effectiveness.
The World Teachers Day commemorates the signing of the 1966 UNESCO/ILO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers, which sets the standards relating to teacher training, recruitment, management in service, professional development and the working environment.
This year’s theme, “Teachers: Leading in crisis, Re-Imagining the Future,” was selected to shine a spotlight on the extraordinary roles teachers have played during the coronavirus pandemic that has ravaged the planet since December 2019.
Since the first case of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) was diagnosed in Kenya on 13 March and our schools closed three days later, our teachers have gone above and beyond what could be expected in order to meet the needs of their students.
In the face of immense challenges, our teachers have struggled to find alternative means of delivering the curriculum to students in the absence of in-person learning. These were mainly through online media, radio, television and email.
Our teachers also delivered home packages such as test papers, books and other material to areas underserved by technology. Many are the teachers who modified their teaching plans and learnt how to write radio scripts and record videos for their students.
As we observed, many Kenyan families lack the gadgets like TV, smart phones and computers that were needed for learning. Even among those families with these devices, some could not afford the cost for daily internet bundles. Moreover, quite large swathes of Kenya are not served by high-speed internet on which online learning depends.
Given these circumstances, while the children in upper and middle income families registered high uptake of online courses, the programmes hardly reached the vast majority of learners, despite the admirable efforts by teachers and parents. By and large, the country has lost nearly one academic year due to COVID-19.
As a union, we urge the government to take a serious look at the concerns raised by educators and identify a policy mix to equip teachers with modern pedagogical and IT tools, motivate them and promote their development as leaders in the classroom, within schools and at societal level. On the minimum, such an effort would entail:
- The provision of the physical and sanitary infrastructure essential to keeping learners, teachers and school communities safe by mitigating risk elements that affect the spread of transmittable ailments such as overcrowding and sharing of facilities.
- Creating a regulatory regime for alternative learning to mainstream online learning in the curriculum and promote the production of digital open-access content at all levels of education.
- Giving primacy to technological projects through the expansion of electricity connection, incentivising telecommunication companies to extend data coverage, establishment of science parks to serve as incubation centres and promote IT literacy from early childhood to tertiary education and life-long learning.
- Reorienting teacher training to infuse critical skills that meet the needs of today’s technologised workplace. Teachers should be at ease using, producing or adapting internet-based learning materials. Those currently in service will need thorough re-tooling through targeted workshops and seminars. Environmental and health management too must be given priority in teacher training.
- Recruitment of more teachers to cater for the increased number of classes and workload upon the rollout of social distancing protocols and contributions to the creation of virtual content, and in health and environmental management within schools. To cope with the new student numbers, Kenya needs at least 150,000 new teachers in the public service.
As a union, KUPPET will continue to place emphasis on leadership at the centre of our unionism. We are reinvigorating our systems at both the national and branch levels to involve members more actively in the union’s affairs.
With those many remarks, let me take the time to wish you all a happy World Teachers.
May God bless you all