More than 7,000 primary school headteachers will converge in Mombasa from Monday for their annual delegates conference.
The meeting at the Kenya School of Revenue Administration will also be attended by senior directors of education, secondary school headteachers, members of the parliamentary Committee on Education and book publishers.
Kenya Primary School Headteachers Association leader Nicholas Gathemia said this year’s meeting, the 15th since the association was formed, will dwell on “critical issues, which have a huge impact on the quality of learning”.
“We will have a chance to share our personal experiences in the administration of schools and exchange ideas, besides brainstorming on key matters and policies that are currently under implementation,” said Mr Gathemia on phone.
Some of the issues include the ongoing implementation of the Competency-based Curriculum, which will get to Grade Four next year, the policy on 100 per cent transition of learners from primary to secondary schools, and teacher promotions.
The country’s 22,263 primary schools are grappling with a teacher shortage of 38,054, an issue that Mr Gathemia says will be discussed “extensively”.
“We appreciate efforts by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to fill the gaps, but still we feel that we need to be more aggressive in addressing the problem for the sake of our children,” he said.
The TSC, which manages a workforce of 313,542 teachers in the basic education sector, is hiring 10,000 interns to teach in public schools to alleviate the shortages. Secondary schools have a shortage of about 58,291.
The meeting is also expected to discuss issues around salaries because the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) will lapse in 2021.
TSC Chief Executive Nancy Macharia said recently discussion on a new CBA (2021-2025) are going on with the unions and she is optimistic they would be concluded in time.
The commission is also training more than 100,000 primary school teachers on the new curriculum.
An explosive issue, which might feature at the meeting, is a leadership row at the Kenya National Union of Teachers, which mostly represents primary school teachers.
The TSC degazetted Secretary-General Wilson Sossion as a teacher but he is fighting the move in court.
He is also at loggerheads with some members of the union’s National Executive Council, who in October kicked him out of office, replacing him with his deputy Hesbon Otieno.
The Labour Court, however, nullified the action and reinstated Mr Sossion.
The TSC has also given Knut notice of termination of the recognition agreement with the union, citing shrinking membership.
According to the Labour Act, recognition of a union by the TSC is dependent on it having 50 per cent plus one of all the teachers in the commission’s register.
The TSC says Knut needs to have at least 159,000 but that according to its register, the union has only 115,000 members.
Mr Gathemia was non-committal on whether or not the issue will be discussed at the meeting, saying only professional matters are on the agenda and that union politics will be irrelevant.