Help teachers in Kakamega cope with mental health issues, stakeholders told

Harrison Otota, Executive Secretary of KUPPET- Kakamega. He wants teachers in the county to be helped to come out of addictions and mental health disorders instead of being victimized.

Education stakeholders in Kakamega County have been urged to unite in curbing mental health disorders and drug and substance abuse, which are affecting many teachers in the county.

The county’s Kenya Union of Post Primary School Teacher (KUPPET) branch Executive Secretary Harrison Otota said the vice is killing many teachers, while others are seriously affected, yet stakeholders are silently watching.

Otota urged the county TSC and Education offices to involve the Ministry of Health (MoH) and relevant government agencies in collaboration with KUPPET to assist the affected teachers before the matter got worse.

“Mental health and drug and substance abuse among teachers in Kakamega County should be our main concern. These are our sons, daughter, brothers and sisters who are in the noble teaching profession. We request all of us to join hands in coming up with a solution to address these challenges,” said Otota.

He said the impact of the vices will be felt in academic performance and it is better to handle it to save the county from dismal display in national exams.

The unionist, who was accompanied by his Chairman Johnstone Wabuti, also urged TSC to go slow on disciplining the affected teachers as ways of rehabilitating them are sought.

“We request TSC to have a human face while addressing these issues. Let us give them medication and allow them to continue with their duties,” he said.

He was speaking at Legacy Hotel in Nakuru City during the county’s KESSHA conference attended by TSC County Director Margaret Kinyanjui, County Director of Education Hellen Nyangau,  and county KESSHA officials, among others.

Otota also lambasted the TSC for delaying the payment of pensions of retired teachers, which has subjected them to perpetual suffering as they chase their perks.

“We want to tell the commission to have some respect for our retired teachers. There is no way that TSC can make the over 60 year olds to wait for pensions for more than five years after retirement. How do you expect him to survive?” he wondered.

On promotions, he accused TSC of neglecting Kakamega County by not promoting any teacher to the positions of Chief Principal and Senior Principal.

“Despite Kakamega County being the second largest in Kenya, having over 6000 post-primary school teachers, the commission only promoted 400; and non of them was promoted to the position of Senior Principal and Chief Principal,” he observed.

Wabuti warned politicians not to take over the role of TSC by dishing out employment letters to their relatives and friends.

“We want politicians to respect the Constitution by allowing TSC to perform its mandate of employing teachers using standard procedures, which will make the process to be free and fair,” he said.

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By Peter Otuoro

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Education News - Newspaper Vol 281