The Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) on Wednesday softened its stance on the competency-based curriculum, indicating that, after months of hardline posturing, it is willing to negotiate with the government on an amicable way forward.
Although Knut’s National Advisory Council (NAC) maintained its earlier position that the Ministry of Education did not follow the right procedure when launching the new curriculum and that teachers have not been trained on the system, it left room for talks with the government on the national rollout of the system.
The talks will be the second attempt to resolve the impasse over the new system, which is being implemented from pre-school to Grade 3. A similar meeting in March this year failed.
The NAC, which consists of 440 branch officials — executive secretaries, chairpersons, treasurers and women’s representatives — arrived at the resolution after half-a-day’s meeting in Nairobi.
The teachers’ umbrella body held two meetings to discuss various issues affecting teachers.
The first meeting was of the National Executive Council, which consists of 41 members, while the second was attended by the NAC.
“We have been notified of the government’s intention and willingness to engage with us on the new curriculum,” said secretary-general Wilson Sossion.
“We wish to state that, as a union, we never opposed curriculum reforms and review, but the right things must be done.”
He did not disclose when the union will meet with government officials, but said the meeting had been arranged through the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu), whose officials confirmed an invitation from the government for a meeting on the CBC but said they were yet to agree on a date.
“We are prepared to engage the ministry and government and will continue to speak the truth until we have a product that is acceptable to the children of Kenya,” said Mr Sossion, who also asked the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to desist from training teachers on the new curriculum, saying it is not the commission’s mandate.
“Teacher training is not the mandate of the employer. TSC is tasked with employment, disciplinary matters and promotion of teachers.”
Mr Sossion also maintained that the CBC is being rolled out unprofessionally and that the teacher training programme being conducted across the country is substandard because the trainers are incompetent.
On Monday, Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang and other PSs held discussions with Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua on the CBC.
“In the meeting, it was acknowledged that the CBC is still work in progress and any contributions that would help improve the programme are welcome. However, the implementation of the programme must go on,” said Government spokesman (Col (Rtd) Cyrus Oguna in a media brief.
Mr Sossion has however insisted that public participation does not include having a few people in boardrooms to decide the fate of schoolchildren.
On the ongoing collective bargaining agreement discussions with the Salaries and Remuneration Commission and the TSC, Mr Sossion said the union had resolved that it will negotiate for a two-year CBA as provided for by the International Labour Organisation.
The SRC has insisted on a four-year cycle and the current Knut/TSC CBA runs from 2017 to 2021.
He said the union had already written to the TSC over the same and prepared a memorandum of demands that will see teachers earn new salaries when the current CBA expires next year. This year in July, TSC will use Sh13 billion to implement the CBA.
The Knut also announced that it will kick out union officials forming associations, among them the recently launched Kenya Women Teachers Association (Kewota).
Mr Sossion said the union would not entertain wayward members who collaborate with enemies of the union to clandestinely form associations or unions that rival Knut.
“Any person who holds views and aspirations contrary to the union’s vision, mission and constitution should quit Knut forthwith,” said Mr Sossion.
The union also hit out at the TSC for interdicting 280 teachers over the new curriculum, against a court order barring the commission from taking such adverse measures.