Monday morning I woke up to the 6AM news bulletin with (Kenya Post Primary Education Teachers) KUPPET giving conditions to government and stating why they will not sign performance contracts. I find it absurd that a grouping of teachers that caters for our young generation fails to see the need in establishing blueprints for their individual performance management. As a matter of fact, I think, and strongly believe that every working person should sign performance contracts, in whatever forms the frameworks they subscribe to determine.
Performance Contracts have been made to sound like monsters in the way of comfort, which they are in a way. I prefer to look at them as foundations for better service delivery, benchmarking against the competition and past performance; both for individuals and institutions. How else will one know their true value, and the value they are bringing to the society and institution they are work for? As a matter of fact, performance contracts should feature in just about every aspect of anyone’s life; personal and professional.
In the last six or so years, I have worked both as a banker and a management consultant where my responsibilities have bordered on tasks that have direct measurable value and perceived value. My greatest challenge was signing contracts as an accountant. In a setup where your responsibilities are doing bank reconciliations, posting transactions and dispensing petty cash and such; your creativity can only be stretched to certain limits on what you truly determine to be your contribution to the mission, vision and mandate of an organization. How exactly does your dispensing of petty cash account for development of a nation for instance? How do you tie your book store responsibilities against the organization’s mission to make life better for Kenyans in economic aspects? I found that hardest; no wonder I was so bored as an accounts guy.
Other responsibilities like Project Management are more rewarding if you are a goal oriented person. You draw strategies for instance, to find funds for a given project that will take three months of your year. Define work plans on how you will use the funds, who will be on your team and what responsibilities they will have, and know what objectives your project will be set out to achieve. At the end of such an assignment, you perfectly know what to expect, and you measure your expectations against your set agenda. If you have achieved the set targets, that is excellence. If not, you failed, or partially achieved.
Teachers should sign performance contract, even so for the simple reason that they have a responsibility to bring up, at least academically new generations that will go far and wide to achieve national and global goals. If you, as an individual cannot agree to sign terms or define terms that will guide your responsibilities, how do you expect to influence a better generation? As a matter of fact, I think our education system has often failed, and produced skewed results every academic year end simply because those who have the responsibility to shape performance didn’t know, or understand how to go about bringing excellence to their schools.
I will take examples from my high school. While performance contracts were not much of a big deal then, the teaching staff and the board of governors understood the need to have students finishing the entire high school syllabus by end of form three with objective to allow students time, a whole year of revision towards (Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education) KCSE. It worked for us, because all we did in fourth form was tests on our understanding and excellence. Our school’s targets also included simple things like working hard off class rooms to ensure we qualify in hockey, basketball and rugby for sports and maintaining our lead in music and drama festivals. This came with collective responsibility and talent identification from as early as admission day in form one.
If KUPPET and (Kenya National Union of Teachers) KNUT can allow themselves to sign performance contracts with The Ministry of Education, then professionalism will be realized. When professionalism is practiced, results are always admirable. The good thing about performance contracts is they do not limit one to the technical aspects. Through my employment and evaluation of various governments designed performance measurement tools, technical aspects account for 50 – 80% of everyone’s responsibility. The other is divided between character, anticorruption war and innovation. Now, if they can sign those, school funds will be accounted for in agreed terms, teachers character will be assessed on a continuous basis and where deficits are found, the authorities are always kind to allow you a suggestion on how you think they can make you better. So please, sign the damn contracts fellas! They will make you and those you serve better.
Till then, cheers!