Teachers unions have condemned the harassment by education officials of a teacher who treks for 20 kilometres daily to deliver exams to her 18 candidates in Trans Mara East, Narok County.
In a rare show of unity, Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) and the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) on Wednesday said the Ministry of Education ought to have lauded the teacher for her sacrifice, noting that her case is only an indication of the challenges tutors undergo in the country.
The statement by unionists comes even as education officials from Narok on Wednesday vowed to continue with their decision to take disciplinary action against Mrs Magdalene Kimani, the Sosiana High School principal.
Some officials from the ministry as well as Kuppet Narok branch officials toured the school in a bid to ascertain how far the teacher walks, the general condition of the road and the status of the school located deep in Trans Mara.
The teacher already recorded her statement and is awaiting the next step of action by the Ministry of Education.
It has also been revealed that when she was posted to the school in January this year, the handing over ceremony was done at the sub-county headquarters in Emurua Dikirr and not in the school as is supposed to be the case.
Kuppet officials said Mrs Kimani’s story of is just an eye opener and an experience of what the teachers go through on a daily basis.
“This is just a representation of the plight of teachers in the rural areas. The threat by the ministry officials is just laughable. We know most of them have not been to that school,” said Mr Charles Ng’eno, the Narok County Kuppet executive secretary.
Mr Nge’no said the principal had not done anything wrong as suggested by the education officials because she only gave her personal experience, adding that she did not talk about policy matters which is a preserve of the Ministry of Education directors.
“The ministry should only collaborate information that indeed some teachers go an extra mile to just ensure that they deliver on their mandate. We have been to that school and we can attest to what the Sosiana principal is saying. Let them be honest,” said Mr Ng’eno.
He asked the ministry to explain why the handing over was done in Emurua Dikirr when Mrs Kimani reported to the school.
“Why did they not go to the school? Some of these officials rarely visit schools. They do not even know that the school does not have a girls’ toilet. What have they done apart from trying to intimidate the teacher? We are calling on them to be proactive instead of being reactive. Let them give solutions instead of castigating each other,” said Mr Ng’eno.
He further said there are so many impassable roads in the region and the fact that other teachers have not talked about it does not mean they are not facing challenges.
“I come from Trans Mara and I feel what the teacher goes through daily. Sosiana is actually far as stated by the teacher and the road there is impassable. Her plight reflects what many other teachers here undergo. Most roads are impassable and what the ministry should be doing now is recognising the efforts put by Mrs Kimani, not intimidating her,” said Mr Willy Korir, the Trans Mara Knut branch executive secretary.
Mr Korir called on ministry officials to be in touch with the community they serve, noting that it is good they visit the schools in their jurisdiction often.
“We are aware of some officials who have been treating teachers unfairly. We ask them to be human and work with teachers for the sake of our children,” he said.
Narok County Quality Assurance Officer Robert Moseti said they will go ahead and take disciplinary action against Mrs Kimani.
“I wish you had consulted us before writing the story. The story has created a lot of attention and will lead to disciplinary action against madam. On Google map, from Dikirr to the school it is 18 kilometres. We do not know where you are getting the 20 kilometres. You are indicating that to and from the school is 40 kilometres,” claimed Mr Moseti.
“You are causing an alarm over something that is not true. You should have talked to us to balance the story. Now it appears like we are not doing our work. We know from where she walks that there is no passable road, that is what should have come out. What is coming out is that the education office has neglected its teachers and is not providing adequate transport for them,” he added.
Mr Moseti said the Ministry of Education is supposed to provide transport for its teachers and went on to list a number of schools where teachers walk for kilometres because the roads are not passable by vehicles.
He went on to say that the Sosiana principal is far much better placed than other teachers, noting that others come face to face with elephants on their way to work.
It is estimated that Mrs Kimani will have walked a distance of more than 320 kilometres, an equivalent to trekking from Nairobi to Bungoma town, by the time KCSE exams are over. Every weekday, she makes a 20-kilometre round-trip on foot to and from school to deliver exams to her candidates.