The West Pokot branch of the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) has castigated two key organisations for opposing the Education ministry's move to lower the points of entry into teacher training colleges (TTCs).
Branch Secretary Martin Sembelo on Saturday criticised the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) and the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet), saying they and others opposing the move are misleading Kenyans.
In the new rules, students seeking a diploma in education will need a C plain or C- in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE), down from the previous C+.
Those seeking a certificate (popularly known as P1), will need a D+, down from a C plain.
Speaking to the Press in Kapenguria, Mr Sembelo said the directive should have been issued long ago for children in marginalised parts of the country to compete fairly with the rest.
He pointed out that marginalised counties have faced the issue of teacher shortages for long since those from other regions are not willing to work in the area.
“West Pokot has a shortage of 2,500 teachers and in some schools along the West Pokot -Elgeyo Marakwet-Turkana border, four teachers handle eight classes. The new directive will help us address this issue since we shall have enough teachers from the county,” he said.
He added: “The proposal is in the Constitution. Counties such as West Pokot, Turkana and Samburu are marginalised ... It will take them more than 50 years to be like other counties. We have gone many years without benefits."
The secretary urged county residents to enroll for programmes at the TTCs.
“There are many people in this country who are successful yet they were taught by teachers who had grades below D+," he noted.
"Let’s not deny the young generation chances to realise their dreams,” he said, adding the literacy level will improve from what it was in the past, when learners dropped out for lack of teachers.
“Many children are unable to further their education due to lack of teachers," he added.
Regarding several complaints by teachers, Mr Sembelo said he supports the ultimatum issued to the government by Knut's Secretary-General Wilson Sossion.
Teachers have threatened a strike should the TSC fail to drop policies they claim are being implemented without Knut's input.
“Issues on delocalisation, promotions and professional advancement should be addressed. They need to have a roundtable discussion with us," Mr Sembelo said.
Mr Sembelo assured students writing national examinations along the border of security, which he said has been beefed up.
“The government has assured us of security so students should not panic due to fear of ambushes. Write you papers with confidence since there are people taking care of your security. The government should deploy Kenya Police Reservists to schools,” he said
He asked the Kenya national Examination Council to ensure there are no hitches and irregularities.
“These are hardship areas ... we have started witnessing heavy rains .We need helicopters so that our children's exams are not delayed. Areas like Chepkokoh, Sondany, Tapach and Seker are hard to reach during heavy rains,” he said.