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Why begrudge teachers and health workers?

The decision has been made but the need to pay our teachers and clinical health professionals continue to be begrudged.

Comparisons are made and the Opposition, which is party to the passing of the pay revision Bill, is fuelling disgruntlement among civil servants. For a society that has come this far largely due to the efforts of teachers and health workers, debates on their pay revision have not focused on what this could mean for them but more on the implications it would have on other professions.

We are a healthy literate society that remains ignorant of the challenges in classrooms and health centres.

It is time we acknowledge these professions’ contribution and challenges. Priorities change with time and the professions that are given a large raise should have come a long time ago. Attrition rate among teachers and health workers is already high and the impact of this is felt by all of us.

The government’s decision to pay teachers and health workers more than the rest of the civil service is laudable. The move should be seen as an attempt to boost their morale, not to demoralise the rest of the professions whose contribution is as critical in nation building.  We have long identified that the quality of our teachers determine the quality of education, just as we have for quality of healthcare.

How we treat and pay our teachers and health workers determines the quality of service provided. We place the society’s most vulnerable, our children and the sick in their care with the assurance that they are in safe hands. For shaping and saving lives, we begrudge them from the comfort of our cushiony offices and homes, not realising that these professionals serve from some of the most remote parts of the country.

The education and health sectors are, however, not without problems. We are short of teachers and health workers, of equipment and standard teaching materials and infrastructure. All these impact the quality of education and healthcare and efforts are underway to address them. The government, which has largely been occupied troubleshooting problems it inherited, has announced major reforms to improve the state of education and healthcare.

As a society that is increasingly looking abroad for job opportunities and not just inspiration, paying high allowances may not still deter them from leaving their professions. They will leave anyway.

What matters more is the impact the move has on those who stay behind to teach and treat and to those who aspire to join these professions.

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