Kenyan University Lecturers Strike- Again!
In Kenya, this would not shake anyone, not unless they are visiting the country for the first time and they are out of touch with International news. It is a norm; it is expected to happen at least once in a year especially just before the end of year examinations.
Since the reign of the second President of the nation, President Daniel Arap Moi till today, the one thing that will not shock Kenyans is Lecturers’ strike. Other strikes such as doctors’ or nurses’ strike are not new either but to imagine that the lecturer who prepares the other nation builders can be out in the streets raising placards; that cannot be ignored as much as it is not news to the nation itself.
Salaries; that one word. Their remuneration, according to them has been nothing but a shame. Bearing in mind that Kenya is openly a highly academic nation where a student is required to get a straight ‘A’ or risk being branded a failure in life, it is a shame to even imagine that the lecturers would be ignored. The mother of all problems rolls down to the parents whose sons and daughters are supposed to be attending classes during the seasons when the lecturers are on strike. Theirs is a prayer every morning, if only the government would hear the lecturers’ cry.
However, from my perspective after learning that the government pays a portion of the lecturers’ salaries and every institution pays the other portion, I see an opportunity for every university to increase their portion of lecturers’ remuneration.
As I write this article, the lecturers have downed their tools for the third week and going, each university’s management is beginning to feel the heat because any trip taken to another town from this moment on may be unrewarded because the students haven’t paid any school fees. Why should they pay when there are no lecturers to teach them? Not only are the lecturers risking their relationships with the government but also with their respective management. The union knows this too well and will yield to none of this. Both the management and the Government of the day have sinned against the beast of burdens. Without lecturers, there is no bread for both the management of the university that enjoys beautiful salaries away from the chalk and the Government that is showered with the glory of a studious nation. Someone has to think a step ahead and woo the lecturers back to class or the cracked system is going to collapse!
Here is how the management of these noble organizations can raise the lecturers’ remuneration.
1. Go Business Full Throttle
Most of Kenya’s public universities occupy large portions of land. The land being under the control of the university can be used productively to lake in revenue for the campus. Imagine this with me; from the vast land that the university owns, crops can be grown, shops can be constructed, posho mills can be built and manufacturing can be put in place within the campuses. This is a double edged sword for the university; not only will the staff members be able to buy their everyday rations from the university’s local supermarket but also the facilities elected within the campus will provide internship opportunities to their students. Every campus then becomes a self-sustaining village with the ability to provide everyday rations to all staff members at a very fair price since all production is going to be ‘locally’ done. This will increase the income of the institution beyond the amount expected from the students’ school fees and also cut on expenses by ensuring that the lecturers are able to retain a good portion of their salaries for other uses.
2. Cut out unnecessary expenses
Make sure that positions of the lecturers are maintained within a very tight scope. Currently, most of the public universities have positions created for lecturers in the name of responsibilities. This includes; deans and head of departments just to mention but a few. Lecturers holding such positions get over exaggerated benefits while on duty such as flights to various cities and towns instead of using the buses which are a cheaper means of transport. Realistically, this is an overrated expense. Standardizing transport and accommodation benefits for everyone including the management would go a long way in to saving the much needed money which should then be spread across the pay slips of all lecturers in the varsity increasing their remuneration.
3. Partner With The Community Around Them
Engage the local community in providing basic amenities at a fair price so as to encourage the lecturers to opt to reside within that community. Most of the lecturers would prefer to live in homes that are near their working places. Unfortunately, due to the high cost of housing, the lecturers are forced to live far from the varsities making their daily living very expensive. The university should encourage those in the community owning rental houses to rent them out to lecturers at a fair rate.
4. Keep The Organization Absolutely Professional
Ensuring that employment and promotion of campus staff is only on merit will be a sure way of keeping the institution professional. This will also curb cases of corruption that are likely to crawl into the system bearing in mind that Kenya as a nation has been topping in the corruption list in Africa alone.
5. Make Marketing A Daily Mantra
Compared to the private universities, the public counterparts are poorly advertised and normally limit themselves to Radio and Television. While private universities spend every waking moment telling the world about their offerings on billboards, social media and every other unthinkable method and making a kill out of it, the public universities are lagging behind. It is unfortunate to even imagine that after all the negativity has been spoken of the private universities, the private universities can still afford to hire lecturers from the public sector to take up a few part-time classes in their field. Who is the joke now?
Having implemented these five steps, I can guarantee this; there will be a mass exodus of lecturers from slow-implementers and doubters to those who investigate these instructions without hard feelings and put them to use. Where lecturers feel valued and their presence is not put at risk, there the best results shall be found. Meanwhile, the private universities will keep ahead of the game and who knows, they will probably take up this article and put it into great use- besides, you haven’t heard of lecturers’ or students’ strikes there, have you? May the best Varsity Management win all lecturers to themselves.