Wajir County leaders have faulted Attorney-General Kihara Kariuki’s advisory barring Education Cabinet Secretary (CS) Amina Mohamed from lowering college entry level grades for students in teacher training schools.
In an interview with the Nation, the leaders said the move is big blow to the region that is still struggling with low literacy rates and acute teacher shortage.
Earlier this year, a mass exodus of teachers was witnessed in Wajir County after a suspected Al-Shabaab attack in Qarsa that left two non-local teachers dead.
The education sector in region depends largely on non-local teachers and was almost crippled after the Teachers Service Commission transferred more than 900 tutors over security issues.
Following the acute teacher shortage, local leaders and the Education ministry mulled several policy actions among them lowering entry grades to teacher training colleges for students from the northeastern region.
But the Attorney-General has waded in, warning the Education CS that she has no authority to dictate to the Teachers Service Commission how to conduct its mandate of reviewing the standards of education and training of persons entering the teaching service.
“The current constitutional and statutory framework is clearly a departure from the past. The Constitution itself clothes the commission in the garb of independence by declaring that the commission shall not be subject to the direction or control of any person or authority,” said Mr Kariuki.
Wajir Senator Abdullahi Ibrahim Ali said Mr Kariuki’s interpretation and the stance taken by TSC is unfortunate and highly uncalled for.
“We will not be used as an employment bureau for other Kenyans who later leave us suffering in the event of unfortunate incidents of insecurity. We will fight to the end to make sure we are not disenfranchised,” Mr Ibrahim said.
Wajir North MP Ahmed Abdisalan termed the move as insensitive, biased and unacceptable. Mr Abdisalam said it is unfortunate that Mr Kariuki is unaware of the unique challenges the education sector in the northern Kenya.
“The decision by the Attorney-General to bar lowering of teachers’ college entry grades will make it impossible for us to realise the dream of having enough teachers. This time round, we will not accept such acts of marginalisation,” he said.
Wajir South MP Mohamud Sheikh Mohammed said Mr Kariuki was inconsiderate in overruling the attempt to lower grades.
“TSC is an authority whose mandate is to recruit and manage teachers and does not have the jurisdiction over teacher training and qualifications. The AG should know that the decision lies with the Ministry of Education,” the MP said.
However, Article 237 of the Constitution gives TSC the mandate to review training of those entering the teaching service, review demand for and supply of teachers, and to advise the national government on matters relating to the teaching profession.
His Wajir East counterpart Rashid Kassim said that it appears that Mr Kariuki and TSC Chief Executive Officer Nancy Macharia are unaware of the plight of people in their region.
“This was an affirmative action to help us get adequate number of teachers. But it seems that both Mrs Macharia and the AG are reluctant to give us adequate teachers so as to solve this menace,” Mr Kassim said.
Mr Kassim said that all the county leaders will meet to chart the way forward following Mr Kariuki’s advisory and threatened they may seek removal of Mrs Macharia from office for alleged inability to provide them with inadequate teachers.
“The role of TSC is to give us teachers and their failure to do so is a clear indication of her inefficiency and [that] of the commission,” said Mr Kassim.
He added that they will also seek to amend the TSC Act through Parliament to make it easier for it to work in consultation with Ministry of Education.
In an advisory opinion issued on November 26 this years addressed to Mrs Macharia and copied to Education CS and the Kenya National Qualification Authority Director-General Juma Mukhwana, Mr Kariuki said Ms Mohamed and the authority had no role in determining the entry grades to teachers training colleges.
Consequently, the fate of students who were admitted into those colleges with lower grades hangs in the balance now.
The students from 17 marginalized counties were admitted to the colleges both for diploma and certificate courses in October this year.