Lydia Nzomo: Teachers Have Been Through a lot
As the globe celebrated World Teachers Day which is marked on 5th October every year, teachers in Kenya were reminded of harsh rules their colleagues faced in the past.
During the colonial times teachers were not respected, they were punished and even caned by the colonialists who were their supervisors.
Former Teachers Service Commission (TSC) Chairperson Dr Lydia Nzomo said that teachers have passed through a lot and they should celebrate the freedom they are currently enjoying.
Nzomo who was speaking during World Teachers’ Day, also known as International Teachers’ Day at the Kenya School of Government on Wednesday said that gender discrimination was rampant in the past.
Before 1975, female teachers in Kenya who became pregnant prior to getting officially married earned themselves an interdiction and subsequent suspension from teaching.
She said the rules were strict and did not spare even teachers who were newly married.
The newly-wedded female teachers who got babies before nine months were over were also disciplined and were subjected to disciplinary action.
Those who applied for maternity leave were required to attach a copy of their marriage certificates as getting a child before marriage was prohibited.
Married female teachers were supposed to get a formal consent from their husbands before a transfer request was granted, in addition to not being entitled to house allowances.
Teachers were also paid less even with same qualifications as their male counterparts.
The harsh rules forced teachers to come up with Unions to fight for their rights.
Teachers led by retired President Daniel Moi vigorously fought for the formation of one teacher body.
The Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT)was formed in 1957 whose formation led to agitation for the creation of an umbrella body to manage the affairs of all teachers.
At the time, teachers were employed by either; missionaries, local authorities or the Central Government which led to a great disparity in remuneration and other terms and conditions of service.
which led to a great disparity in remuneration and other terms and conditions of service.
In 1964, The Kenya Education Commission Report (The Ominde Report) strongly supported the need for a competent, respected and contented teaching force.
As a result of these factors, the Teachers Service Commission was formed in July 1967 through an Act of Parliament to give teachers one employer and uniform terms and conditions of service.
It was charged with the mandate of registering, employing, promoting, disciplining and paying teachers.
Nzomo has documented these and other revelations in her 308 pages book “Staying the Course” that was published by the Kenya Literature Bureau and which is currently on sale.