The protracted deadlock between the government and the main teachers’ union over the hiring of teachers on contract has finally ended with the publication elsewhere in this newspaper of a list of 18,000 new recruits.
It is encouraging that the two duelling parties finally saw reason and called a truce in the long fight over this subject.
Theirs was truly a contest in which there would be no winner and the identity of the losers was abundantly clear.
They were the millions of students suffering in crowded classes and the teachers bearing the burden of extra workload due to the shortfall of trained teachers.
It is easy to discern the logic behind the government’s plan to hire teachers on contract. They took the view that in the short term, there was not enough money in treasury coffers to add the 60,000 permanent employees required to bridge the gap in schools.
The proposed solution was to hire trained youth on contract with the promise that they would be given different terms when their contracts expired.
While it is possible to sympathise with the union’s view that all teachers must be hired on permanent and pensionable terms, the reality is that a union operating in the 21st century must temper their demands with the realisation that this is a different economic environment.
More dynamism and appreciation of the changing economic climate would help the unions play a more helpful role in today’s Kenya.