Knut demands more talks on performance contracts

Sunday February 14 2016

Knut national Chairman Mudzo Nzili addresses teachers at DEB Primary School in Nyeri town after the branch elections on February 5, 2016. Mr Nzili said teachers were not against being appraised but called for discussions on the issue. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Knut national Chairman Mudzo Nzili addresses teachers at DEB Primary School in Nyeri town after the branch elections on February 5, 2016. Mr Nzili said teachers were not against being appraised but called for discussions on the issue. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By KENNEDY OKWACH
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Teachers have called for a review of performance contracts issued by their employer.

The Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) on Saturday said teachers will only sign the contracts once the unions are involved in the discussions.

The contracts were introduced by the Teachers Service Commission.

Mr Mudzo Nzili, the Knut national chairman, said teachers were not against being appraised but called for discussions on the issue.

“We want a credible engagement, we do not want hide-and-seek games. The rights of teachers must be respected,” Mr Nzili said during Knut Kakamega Central branch elections on Saturday. He accused TSC of sidelining unions.

“We must all be involved. Knut has a live negotiation machinery and we cannot allow teachers to sign documents that they do not even understand. We are saying there shall be no performance contracting and teachers shall not take part in it, full stop,” he said.

The appraisals, targeting about 298,000 teachers countrywide, were scheduled to start last month according to a schedule released by TSC boss Nancy Macharia last December.

Ms Macharia, in a circular to county education officers, added that the appraisal for individual teachers and heads of institutions will inform key management decisions including assignment, training, promotion and deployment to administrative positions for tutors.

“The initiatives are intended to achieve improved teacher performance competencies and improved learning outcomes,” said Ms Macharia.

PURPOSE OF APPRAISAL
But teachers, through their unions, have resisted the move. Mr Nzili said that teachers are appraised by Ministry of Education through assurance officers.

“Are we going to be appraised twice? The issue being raised by TSC of teachers’ absenteeism and poor performance cannot be solved by forcing the main players in education to sign contracts,” said Mr Nzili.

Mr Nzili urged TSC to hold a consultative meeting with Knut to discuss contentious issues being raised by teachers instead of threatening to punish them.

“We need to understand the motive of the directive. We also need to know the basis of appraisal because we suspect teachers will be victimised in this new development. The blame put on teachers for poor examination results should be directed to the right people and that’s the government. Free education, under-staffing and lack of infrastructure are the main reasons education standards are going down,” he said.

According the regulations, TSC will use the appraisals to determine promotion, deployment and other rewards.

The Commission is by law mandated to monitor the conduct and performance of teachers in the teaching service.