Teachers have rejected a round of changes in the management of schools announced by their employer on Tuesday, saying some of them were punitive and unreasonable.
Their unions accused the Teachers Service Commission of failing to consult them on the staffing changes, which they said were far-reaching and would impact negatively on their lives.
They were particularly unhappy about a rule requiring that headteachers and their deputies be posted outside their home counties and that they must have master’s degrees to qualify for school management.
They also opposed a plan to have schools sharing the same compound run by a single board and one headteacher.
Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) Secretary-General Akelo Misori described the policies as politically-driven.
“We are rushing some of these policies without carrying out adequate consultations,” said Mr Misori.
Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) Secretary-General Wilson Sossion also opposed the directive to dissolve boards of schools that share a compound.
He said the policy on identification, selection and deployment of administrators that will see headteachers and principals posted outside their home counties would break many families.
He accused the Ministry of Education of dictatorship and warned Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i against implementing policies without full consultations.
“We must engage and agree. Merging of school boards will never happen unless outside Kenya and that is a resolution. Schools that are already registered with boards of management should be allowed to run whether two or four schools are in one compound,” Mr Sossion told more than 12,000 headteachers attending their annual conference in Mombasa.
He asked the TSC to reconsider the policy requiring headteachers to have degrees for primary schools and masters for secondary ones.
“It is not right. By the time you are recruited to train as a teacher the minimum requirement has been set out, so the temptation to introduce these papers is against labour laws barring the terms and conditions of engagement,” he said.
In Mombasa, Knut said the delocalisation policy introduced by TSC was uncalled for and requires more consultations with educationists.
Education expert Andiwo Obondo said while higher academic qualifications are important, TSC should train school heads on financial management. “We should not just look at academic papers but required skills to run these schools,” said Mr Obondo, adding that only teachers of high integrity should be recruited to manage schools.
In Vihiga, the local officials of Knut said a proposal to dissolve some boards will run into problems because the institutions have peculiar needs.
Executive Secretary Maurice Chalenga said the plan was impractical even before it is implemented.
“Primary and secondary schools are not the same and a single board of management cannot take care of two different needs. Each institution is a distinct entity and the needs are not the same,” he said.
“The move to merge institutions will also affect jobs as one headteacher will have to leave,” he added.
In Migori County, Kuppet executive secretary Samuel Orwa Jasolo said the degrees directive for headteachers was “in bad faith and out of tune with the reality”.
“If there is no law requiring our President, his deputy, cabinet ministers and our governors to have masters degrees, what makes TSC leadership think that secondary school bosses should attain that level of education as a requirement?” he asked.
He asked Kenyans to oppose changes that were being carried out in the education sector without consultations.
“We have seen the cabinet secretary talk about impractical things such as merging the leaderships of neighbouring secondary and primary schools. I think we are headed in the wrong direction as a country,” added Mr Jasolo.
In Kisumu , Kuppet executive secretary Zablon Awange cautioned that implementation of the new framework without enough personnel would be a recipe for chaos and would compromise the quality of education.
Mr Awange asked Dr Matiang’i to fast-track the hiring of more teachers before the new curriculum is rolled out.
“The issue of inadequate staff must be solved urgently by employing teachers this December and not next year,” he said.
In announcing the changes, TSC chief executive Nancy Macharia said the degree requirement was meant to improve the quality of teaching and that headteachers who did not have the papers would be given time to acquire them.
Dr Matiang’i, while launching the selection for Form Ones on Monday, said the plan to have schools sharing one compound managed by a single board and one headteacher was meant to improve efficiency and get rid of squabbles.
Report by Winnie Atieno, Derick Luvega, Elisha Otieno, Ouma Wanzala and Victor Raballa