Teachers’ strikes affect students and families in various ways, but, before looking at the different ways it affects them; it’s important to ask the question, “Are teachers justified in striking?” Answering this question will enable every person including the government, not only on looking at one side and totally ignoring the other because one part is hurting, the reason for strike and the other party(ies) will be hurt as a result of the first party. This is a question that has raised different answers or views and forms one of the most controversial issues especially in debates.
Teaching is a profession that is looked down upon by a large percentage of people. In reality, teaching is the most despised profession not only in Northern America but all over the world. In a country like Tanzania in Africa, an ECDE teacher is despised and the question he/she is asked is whether he/she didn’t find a good job, instead decides to choose this ‘useless’ profession.
If there is anything to show teaching is a despised profession, even by the government is the peanut salary teachers earn. A person could have been forgiven by thinking it’s only in Northern America teachers are paid handsome salary. Not so. It doesn’t matter which region of the world, the frequent strikes experienced in many countries show how it is true they are despised.
How would parents and government expect teachers to cater for their basic needs when the payment is low? Dialogue in many cases has always proved useless because they are promised an increase in salary only later to realize they were cheated. A good is example is a Kenyan case. The teachers were always promised only to have come learn the tactics used by the government. Some teachers even retired and they never saw the increased salary. The teachers were always promised during dialogues with Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) and the government. However, the promises were empty. This promoted the teachers to strike during the third term when the the standard eight pupils in primary schools and form four students in secondary schools were preparing for the final examinations.
Therefore, it will be seen strikes are the only way teachers use in order to be heard and their grievances to be addressed. On one side, the strikes are beneficial because of the consequences of such strikes while on the other hand, such strikes are accompanied with negative consequences in the case of students and families.
The major effect of teachers’ strikes is halting or bringing to a standstill the learning. The students, if the strikes are prolonged for more than a week, have to contend with the fact they will face the coming school days without a guide. Students who come from low-income families are the most affected; for their parents cannot afford to pay for private schooling if the student is not bright.
Also, in the same line of the learning, every term there a number of units that are supposed to be completed. This implies if the teachers’ strikes continue for a long time, it means by the end of the year after the teachers resume, the syllabus for that year will not have been completed. If the syllabus will be completed, the teacher would have taught the students the units in a ‘missile’ speed, leaving the students at the end of the year in an awkward position – not having understood a large percentage of what they were taught.
Parents on the other hand have to contend with the fact that time lost can never be recovered. They will be forced to look for a private teacher which is not something good to look forward for their children were supposed to be in school. This is especially the case when teachers have strike close to the final examinations.
In countries where students study full-time from eight in the morning till four in the evening; teachers’ strike if prolonged to a period of one month means expenses at household level will increase. A mother and father can survive on a little but children added, the expenses will increase. One full month of teachers’ strike equals one month of holiday to students meaning one month of extra and unexpected expenses to the parents.
The above are the major effects of strike on students and families while for teachers such known effects (though they are not happy about it for even their children are students) is a stronghold for their grievances to be heard and addressed.