If you thought he deserved it, you would sympathise with Jacob Kaimenyi. Do you think he deserves sympathy? I don't. He has a remarkable tone-deafness that defies all logic. It has been three years and if he is still trying to find out whether his ministry will be effective partners in his relations with one of the largest chunks of the public service, teachers of primary and secondary schools, this year alone should have disabused him finally of this notion. If he thought the Teachers' Service Commission would do so too, again, this year should have dashed those hopes on the rocks of the harsh reality of the incompetence of the TSC.
According to the Economic Survey of 2015 published by the Kenya national Bureau of Statistics, the number of primary and secondary school teachers is almost 280,000. This a a very, very large number. This a number so large that to fire them all and replace them with another 280,000 at the terms of the ones who were fired will bankrupt the State. Mr Kaimenyi, his Ministry and the TSC are blowing smoke up our arses regarding the fiction that teachers will be fired for going on strike.
This is a crisis that has been passed on from Moi to Kibaki and now to Uhuru. 1997 to 2015 is a long time to keep the public school teachers guessing. The Kenya National Union of Teachers and its brother hooligan, the Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers, have not covered themselves in glory. They have proven to be pliable tools of the politicians, swaying from one extreme to the other, depending on what political crisis of the week the politicians want their help with. The Mudzo Nzili-Wilson Sossion pair, though, have taken their show to ridiculous heights.
This crisis was bound to escalate; the teachers feel that with basic constitutional protections on their side and a reckless labour court agreeing mostly with their wild demands, while the Cabinet Secretary, his Ministry and the TSC were never going to cave in come hell or high water. I am surprised the phrase "over my dead body" was not uttered by the CS, his PS or the TSC chairman. And now the strike enters the fourth week, the Ministry has decided to close both private and public primary and secondary schools indefinitely. This raises a new headache for the can't pay, won't pay brigade.
Private schools have been steadily stealing a match in the exam sweepstakes on the public sector. That seems to be the only reason that Mr Kaimenyi, in his infinite wisdom, has ordered them to be closed when the public sector was out of commission. The three weeks head start they have should be sufficient for now. Another court battle looms and I fear Mr Kaimenyi will lose. There is absolutely no reason why private schools should be shut simply because Mr Kaimenyi has completely failed to properly deal with his public sector. He will not find friends in the High Court.
Mr Kaimenyi's and Mr Kenyatta's are political problems, and what they need are political solutions. I fear that they have infrastructures that are incapable of looking for solutions, merely victories, of which even if they find one here, it will be Pyrrhic: children will still have been out of school, their exam prospect will have been jeopardised, their parents will blame all parties involved, ad Mr Kaimenyi will carry on as before. Without a political a solution that has a whiff of permanence about it, this thing will not end well.