Kenya Kwanza, Azimio fight for front seat in the classroom
The two main coalitions in the August 9 General Election are wooing the more than 300,000 teachers with promises to initiate radical reforms and improve their terms of service.
Kenya Kwanza Alliance and Azimio-One Kenya Coalition have held campaign meetings with groups of teachers and education stakeholders.
When UDA candidate, Deputy President William Ruto, spoke at a Kenya Kwanza education forum on June 23, he made a raft of promises, including abolishing the delocalisation programme if he wins the election.
He said it would be replaced with a programme that appreciates teachers as a national resource.
Ruto added that incentives would be made available to teachers who wish to teach outside their home counties.
The delocalisation policy was opposed by teachers unions when its implementation started in 2018.
Ruto also pledged to address issues like shortage of teachers, capitation and Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) funding.
“We want to engage in a way of arriving at education being the driver for our economic model and making sure bottom up is enabled by the kind of education that we have,” he said.
“Access, relevance, affordability and quality are issues we want to have a conversation about so that we can build a human capital to give us the edge to achieve the country’s goals and be internationally competitive,” he added.
On teacher shortage, he promised to bridge the gap in two phases, where they will employ 116,000 teachers in the next two years at a cost of Sh25 billion.
Azimio presidential candidate Raila Odinga has pledged a number of goodies for the education sector, including hiring more than 300,000 new teachers.
He has also proposed to absorb all unemployed teachers in public schools which have an estimated shortage of 114,500.
“We will ensure that all unemployed teachers are hired to improve the quality of education for our children,” Raila said.
Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) deputy secretary general Hesbon Otieno says the union has not endorsed any candidate or made a declaration on what coalition to support.
Teachers and union leaders, he says, are at liberty to declare their personal support for candidates.
“We usually work with the government of the day but we can also influence formation of the next government because of interests. However, as of now we have let the teachers make their choices,” Otieno told People Daily yesterday.
But earlier this month, KNUT secretary general Collins Oyuu said the union would reach out to its members and ask them to vote for Raila.
“We will vote for Azimio because it has committed to support all the unemployed trained teachers. Our members will from today come out strongly and campaign for the Azimio team,” he said.
His Kenya Union of Post Primary Teachers (KUPPET) counterpart Akelo Misori also urged teachers to vote for the Azimio candidate.
“Both Raila and Martha Karua are known to be defenders of the poor and downtrodden,” he said.
The two made the remarks when Azimio presidential running mate Karua met teachers in Kiambu and urged them to safeguard the voting process.
“Teachers raise the nation. I am a daughter of teachers. If I did not become a lawyer, I would have become a teacher. Teachers’ issues are close to my heart and I was honoured to discuss our agenda and receive the endorsement of teachers from Mt. Kenya,” she said during the meeting.
She added: “We are humbly seeking your votes not because we are perfect. Every human being is imperfect but we are the best option.”