Ten top officials of the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) left their jobs on Thursday at the start of far reaching reforms that will transform the lives of teachers.
The commissioners quit at the expiry of their contracts and will not replaced in line with the new Constitution, which requires the TSC to have only nine commissioners.
The commission, which employs 260,000 teachers, now has 12 commissioners following the departure of two others earlier in the year.
Because of the trimming down, many of the services now obtained in Nairobi are being sent to the counties.
Teachers have been trooping to the commission’s headquarters for services relating to recruitment, termination of employment, transfers and the hearing of disciplinary cases.
All these will now be decentralised to the 47 counties, taking the services closer to the teaching force.
Last week, TSC boss Gabriel Lengoiboni told head teachers in Mombasa that the commission was getting ready to shift many of its functions to counties.
The new-look TSC is now an independent commission, funded directly from the Exchequer.
Previously, the commission’s money came through the parent Education ministry.
The new Constitution allows commissioners to hold office until their terms expire. Those whose terms have ended are former secondary school heads association chairman Peterson Muthathai, former Kisii Kenya National Union of Teachers executive secretary David Mokamba, and former Nyanza provincial director of education Roselyn Onyuka.
Others are Mr Cassianus Aluku, Mr Richard Cheror, Mr James Wakhobe, Ms Zainabu Haji, Ms Faith Kiarie, Mr Makoti Mwanazaidi and Mr Joseph Manje. Former Education policy and planning director Miriam Mwirotsi and another commissioner left early this year.
The TSC’s chairman, Mr Ibrahim Hussein, said: “Their contracts have come to an end and their exit has also been provided for under the transitional clauses of the Constitution.” Mr Hussein’s term ends on November 15. Mr Lengoiboni said in Mombasa that the commission will continue registering teachers and managing the payroll.
“The other core functions will gradually be decentralised as soon as necessary legal framework, subsidiary legislation and policy instruments are realigned with the constitution.”
Mr Lengoiboni said TSC officers deployed to each county will serve as a secretariat and direct recruitment of teachers.
Panels for employing teachers will be picked at each county from time to time. “It is envisaged that the recruitment process (will) be automated so speeding the process, enhancing accountability and transparency,” he said.
The counties will have autonomy in the recruitment process in advertising the positions, short-listing and interviewing the candidates.
On the other hand, the headquarters will be responsible for providing oversight and issue appointment letters to maintain integrity in the process.
According to Chapter 15 of the new Constitution, the commission is mandated to review standards of education, train persons entering the teaching service and advise the government on matters of the profession.
Unlike in the current plan where teachers are registered centrally at TSC headquarters, all training institutions will register teachers and issue them with identification numbers to speed up the process.
According to a report prepared by commissioners in anticipation of the TSC Bill set to guide the setting up of the structure of the new-look TSC, devolution of responsibilities is the key challenge at the moment.
“The commission shall enforce the registration process to establish a nominal roll of all trained and qualified teachers in the country for effective management,” the report said.
The commission cannot accurately account for the number of trained and qualified teachers since some teachers opt out of the profession.
To reflect its changed status, the TSC has lost the blue number plate reserved for parastatals and is using GK plates.
TSC has lost its pay rise powers exercised through the Teachers Service Remuneration Committee.
The responsibility to determine and harmonise the salary structures of public servants now rests with the Salaries and Remuneration Commission where TSC shall only appoint one officer to represent it.