The row between the Ministry of Education and the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) over lower entry grades to teachers training colleges escalated Thursday, after the commission sought the intervention of the High Court.
TSC dragged Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed to the High Court following her directive to lower entry grade to colleges in October and which the commission has vowed to reject at all cost.
The move by TSC came days after Tuesday meeting that was hosted by Ms Mohamed and which resolved to set up a technical team to look at the issue as had been directed by the court.
Kenya Union of Post Primary education Teachers (Kuppet) had initially filed a similar suit at Employment and Labour Relations Court but withdrew in order to also move to High Court saying it was the right Court to hear the matter.
TSC is challenging the Kenya national qualification Framework Act which gives power to the CS to review the standard of education and training of persons entering the teaching service.
According to TSC, the directive amounted to a unilateral amendment of the TSC regulations 2016 and has resulted to anxiety in the teaching profession as well as also brought into question TSC’s regulatory mandate as provided in the Constitution.
“Unless this case herein is heard on a priority basis and the illegal actions of the CS and the AG stopped, this subject matter shall be rendered nugatory and an exercise of futility,” said lawyer Oyucho Timon for TSC.
Whilst the commission claimed that the constitution gives TSC power to set the minimum entry qualifications for persons entering the teaching service and that the same is stipulated in a 2015 legal notice in the code of regulations, the Kenya National Qualifications Framework Act also grants similar powers to the CS.
According to TSC, setting and reviewing of standards of education and training of persons entering the teaching service vests on them alone.
The commission now argues that subsequent legislation on code of conduct for teachers have also been part of their role besides being the collective body of the teaching profession.
The commission is therefore accusing the CS of single handedly, arbitrarily and indiscriminately publishing a gazette notice with that disputed directive.
They are terming it as a gross violation of the Constitution, discriminatory and unlawful.
They also term the action as an exercise of futility saying that persons trained with lower qualifications stand no chance at all of being employed as teachers either in public or private sector.
The entry grade for teachers' training colleges were lowered from C to D+ for P1 and that for diploma colleges from C+ to C- in 17 marginalized counties.
On December 20, the labour court directive the CS to hold a consultative meeting with other stakeholders in order to harmonize the entry grade.
TSC now wants the legal notice published on the same declared as inconsistent and that both the CS and the AG barred from enforcing that directive.
On Tuesday, Ms Mohamed and TSC failed to strike a deal on the issue after a daylong meeting which left the fate of 3,450 teacher’s trainees hanging in the balance.
Ms Mohamed and Mrs Macharia have been working at cross purposes on the issue with the commission insisting that it is mandated to decide on the entry grade.
The Attorney-General Kihara Kariuki in an advisory opinion said only the Teachers Service Commission is mandated to prescribe the entry qualifications.
The AG in the advisory described Ms Mohamed's move as irregular and adding; "The TSC is the state organ with the constitutional power and mandate to set the minimum qualifications for persons entering the teaching service. There is no law that vests the Cabinet secretary or the Kenya National Qualifications Authority (KNQA) with power to set such standards and were it to be there, it would be unconstitutional and therefore null and void to the extent of its unconstitutionality.”