Teachers now want to be placed under the direct management of the Ministry of Education and not their current employer – the Teachers Service Commission (TSC).
The Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut), in its proposal to the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) taskforce chaired by Garissa Senator Yusuf Haji, argues that most of teacher’s day-to-day activities, curriculum implementation, supervision, quality assurance and standards and assessment fall directly under the State Department of Basic Education.
“Placing the Commission under the watch of the State Department of Basic Education will greatly assist in addressing duplication of functions and more importantly, reduce the cost of running the Ministry of Education,” reads the presentation to the BBI team which is expected to submit its report to President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga in October.
Knut argues that for instance, at sub-county, county and regional levels, there will only be one office instead of two as is the case currently.
“Realignment of TSC directorates, departments and sections after the merger with the State Department of Basic education would further reduce the running costs of the ministry, with a lot of money left to hire more teachers. Currently, teachers’ shortage in public schools stands at 96,000,” reads the document signed by Knut Secretary-General Wilson Sossion.
Knut says that TSC, after being absorbed by the State Department of Basic Education, should be left with partial mandate of recruiting and employing registered teachers, promoting and transferring teachers and managing the payroll of teachers under strict supervision of the National Treasury.
“The rest of functions of TSC as outlined in the code of regulations for teachers should be spread out in the directorates and the State Department of Basic Education,” proposes Knut.
Mr Sossion says the current constitutional and statutory framework clothes TSC in the garb of independence by declaring that the commission shall not be subjected to direction or control of any person or authority.
“This has indeed made the commission to act with impunity while serving teachers, isolated itself from stakeholders, taken unilateral decisions without due consultation with other players in the sector and the arbitrary actions taken by TSC on policy matters has always placed the Commission on a collision course with curriculum implementers (teachers),” reads the document by Knut.
Knut argues that it is illogical and unrealistic for TSC to duplicate the role of the State Department of Basic Education under the guise of teacher management, more so since the Ministry of Education develops and supervises the implementation of the curriculum, including conducting national assessment.
As such, Knut argues the ministry should bear the direct responsibility of managing the implementers (teachers) as it understands the curriculum much better than TSC does.
“The State Department of Basic Education should be given a leeway to conduct quality assurance, review the teaching standards of education and training of persons entering the teaching service,” adds Knut.
Knut says it is the Ministry of Education that is charged with the responsibility of setting up infrastructures in schools, supplies teaching and learning materials, and, therefore, should be given the supervision role to review the demand for, and the supply of teachers and advise the national government on matters relating to the teaching profession.
“TSC cannot employ and regulate at the same time. The Commission should adapt the model of Public Service Commission (PSC) which employs and sends or deploys the staff to various ministries where they are managed. For the case of TSC, the Commission should hire and post teachers to institutions where they would be managed,” states Knut.
Knut also wants an independent regulatory body to handle teachers’ disciplinary cases and other related matters.
The responsibilities of the regulatory body, Knut says, should be registering teachers, regulating their professional conduct, accrediting colleges and monitoring quality controls and assurance of education facilities and services.
Others will be developing, maintaining and improving appropriate standards of qualification in the teaching profession and investigating allegations of professional misconduct and imposing necessary sanctions.
Knut wants the National Treasury to be mandated by law to handle the remuneration of teachers.
But the union says collective bargaining agreement should be left entirely for the ministry to supervise the negotiations with teachers’ unions and TSC.
“In light of the fore-mentioned, it is the earnest appeal by Knut to Building Bridges Initiative to include TSC as a referendum question. Knut hereby draws the attention of BBI to consider the adjustment of the Constitution to accommodate the proposed changes,” says Mr Sossion in the document.
At the moment, the Ministry of Education has no direct control of teachers as it is only TSC that can take action against a teacher for misconduct or financial misappropriation.
Officers from TSC and those from the Ministry of Education have been in competition at the grassroots level.
This year, the Ministry of Education was forced to kick out more than 3,000 students from teachers training colleges after TSC rejected new lower entry grades announced by then Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed.
TSC also took Ms Mohamed to court but the case was withdrawn following the intervention of State House.
Early this month, Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang told MPs in Naivasha that the Ministry was working with TSC to avoid duplication of activities in the field.