Linus kaikai kicker
Delocalization of teachers, controversial as some may consider it, is a deeply personal issue for me and certainly, for those who like me went to school in some of the country’s most remote rural villages.
I keep wondering what would have been if my Geography, History and Civics GHC teacher Mr. Samuel Gachuhi Kimotho did not travel from his Ihururu village on the edges of Aberdare forest in Nyeri County all the way to our then remote and barely accessible Osinoni village where I was born and brought up. What if my Kiswahili teacher Mr. Lawrence Mungai did not leave Kabete in Kiambu to teach me in Transmara, Narok County? What if Mr. James Awange did not move from Siaya to teach in my primary school? How about Mr James Mugo who traveled all the way from Nyandarua? What if Mr. Onwong’a and Mr. Onchwari did not cross from Kisii and Nyamira to teach us in my village? How about Mr. Geoffrey Kariuki all the way from Ngong or was it Nairobi?
As was the case at the time, there was a serious shortage of so called local teachers and primary schools in our sub-district relied heavily on teachers from other parts of the country. There was an occasional ‘local teacher’; one or two per school, and I remember one who was perennially absent from duty; at one time on sick leave with a leg injury having been gored by his own bull. So to me, ‘delocalised’ teachers were a real lifeline. And on a more personal note, a majority of these teachers operated from my parent’s humble house as the school and the village lacked housing.
We also went to local secondary schools and I can’t help wondering who would have taught us Literature and walked us through Chinua Achebe’s ‘Things Fall Apart’ if our legend Mr. Caleb Otieno Opondo did not leave his Rongo village in Migori for Kilgoris Secondary School? Then there was the eloquent James Wachira Munuhe from Nakuru and the stylish Mr. Odenyo from Kakamega…I could go on overnight. Let me just say on behalf of my classmates – we are products of delocalised teachers.
This week, I followed with dismay the debate in Parliament fronted by Lurambi Member of Parliament Titus Khamala which ended with legislators asking the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to end its delocalization programme. The MPs want TSC to reverse the programme which kicked off in 2018 and instead transfer teachers back to their counties of birth. The MPs argue that the lives of teachers were disrupted by the delocalization programme and that it lowered teacher moral and visited untold trauma upon teachers across the country.
On the afternoon, unfortunately few MPs spoke of the merits of delocalization. I won’t say much either, except to express strong reservations against an argument that restricts some of our best brains to villages of their birth. Beyond chalk and board, delocalized teachers bring the world and new perspectives to our villages and our young learners. They expose them to a world larger than their own localities. They introduce them to the width and breadth of our vast territory. Delocalized teachers liberate young minds and introduce villagers to the nation. It is that huge in my view.
You know the other day, a school in Kiambu County won the national trophy at the National Music Festival for an excellent rendition of a Maasai song. Only delocalized minds can deliver that fete. I am also opposed by the arguments made in Parliament against delocalization of teachers on the very simple ground that every MP who spoke against delocalization had themselves left their own villages. Our teachers should remain the national resource they used to be; the shapers of nationhood across generations. And they can’t do that from their villages alone.
If all else fails, Parliament should be cognisant of Article 237 of the Constitution which assigns the TSC the sole mandate of employing and deploying teachers in any public school in any part of the country. It is also that basic.