NAIROBI, June 24 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Tuesday admitted failure by the Government in addressing the plight of teachers and said the gap between the educationists’ salaries and that of other civil servants was huge and unacceptable.
He told a meeting of head teachers that though resource constraints do exist, there must be more equitable harmonization of teachers’ pay packages.
“I know that we have failed you in a few areas, and that is why I travelled to Mombasa to ensure that you are able to fulfil your calling,” he said.
The Prime Minister assured teachers that resolving their concerns would be a priority for the grand coalition which would tackle the question of long delays in promotions as well as the lack of leave benefits and opportunity for staff development.
“Education is just too important to our nation’s future to have such festering issues unattended to,” the Prime Minister said addressing head teachers from all over the country.
While opening the Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association conference he noted that unlike in the civil service the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) doesn’t upgrade the instructors’ position when they get higher degrees.
“I am aware teachers want ranks like that of principal, senior principal and head of department given more strength by designated Job Group, responsibility and offices,” he said.
On the issue of a perennial teacher shortage in the country, Raila urged for endurance as the Government looked into the issue.
“Addressing these issues has taken time but I want you to be aware that the introduction of Free Secondary Education has imposed new challenges, and I plead for a bit of patience.”
He also used the forum as an opportunity to raise concern over an apparent increase in commercialization of higher education.
He said nowadays higher learning is a preserve of the rich.
“Kenya has more Universities now but parallel students, those who join because they pay, have outnumbered regulars who get the best grades.”
Also on the list for intervention is the large number of educated but unemployed youth.
“The challenges posed by such idle youth to themselves and to society cannot be underestimated so their energies and knowledge must be harnessed so that they can earn a living and contribute towards nation building,” he emphasized.
The annual conference was held under the theme ‘Education for Unity.’