Leverage on alumni networks to support schools and teachers – Business Daily
Workers paint a school in Elburgon, Nakuru. PHOTO | NMG
The right to education is enshrined in the Kenya Constitution and international instruments. The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) recognise the place of education in societal development, calling for inclusivity and equity in education provision and universality in its delivery. Freedom icon Nelson Mandela once hailed education as an equaliser in society.
In supporting education, we often discuss and put effort into improving the curriculum, the learning environment, the teaching process and the teacher who delivers the content. These are important ingredients in meeting SDG4 targets.
This past week we buried a retired primary school headteacher in my rural village. His death led me to reflect on the place of teachers in society and the need for strengthening linkages between alumni and their schools, from pre-primary to tertiary level.
The gentleman that was buried last week served as a headteacher in my local primary school long after I had finished my primary school studies. I engaged with him first as the patron of the primary school, during a period when the school’s infrastructure was dilapidated. Through his leadership, we were able to improve the infrastructure of the school through local fundraising to an extent that there was pressure to convert it into a secondary school. We both resisted this suggestion, arguing that the young children in the village deserved a conducive learning environment.
Having grown up in the village at a time when the school had mud-walled classrooms and latrines were a health hazard, once almost leading to the death of a classmate when the floor collapsed, it was gratifying to transform the school.
The late headteacher made a fundamental contribution to that process. His leadership, commitment and integrity were inspiring. At one time I was trying to convince a local embassy to support the school with facilities. We visited the school, and the local officer was impressed with how the funds the school had received was used.
Any expenditure was prominently displayed on a noticeboard outside the headteacher’s office so that any stakeholder who walked in did not need to ask how money was utilised. That he did this at a time before the public participation and values of public service and financial management were captured in the Constitution impressed the visitor and won the school support from the embassy.
His death brought back memories of the uncelebrated heroes that the teachers are in society. They toil daily across the country transforming societies yet in many instances we do not fully support them. It is important that the teaching profession and teachers receive greater recognition and support, more than the politicians. If teaching became as glorified as politics currently, the development of Kenya and the value system of the country would greatly improve.
The writer is a law professor at the University of Nairobi’s School of Law.