The Kenya National Union of Teachers and the Teachers Service Commission are headed for a clash over performance appraisals and contracting once again.
Knut Secretary-General Wilson Sossion has threatened to call a strike on September 1 to push for the withdrawal of the appraisal, despite having signed the document that allowed it in 2016.
“Teachers are spending a lot of time in cyber cafes downloading, filling and submitting forms to the employer,” Mr Sossion said at a meeting in Nyamira County.
He added that teachers are not opposed to being evaluated but want to be involved in the development of the tools.
During a recent presentation to the National Assembly Education Committee, TSC chief executive Nancy Macharia said the rating has improved accountability “since headteachers are required to sign performance contracts”.
“The tools have institutionalised a performance-oriented culture in all public schools,” Mrs Macharia said.
The chief executive said the appraisal has provided a chance for teachers to identify their professional gaps.
“It has improved teacher presence and teacher-learner contact hours. The appraisal has rejuvenated professionalism since teachers maintain records,” Mrs Macharia said.
TSC chairperson Lydia Nzomo has also defended the new policy saying it is aimed at guiding and developing transformative teaching.
“Our policies are meant to develop the potential of teachers so that they offer the best education to children,” Dr Nzomo said in Mombasa last month.
“Many things have been said about the appraisal. This is probably because emphasis seems to be on the process rather than teachers. The process can be more about paperwork, form-filling and ticking boxes and uploading data. The principle of the appraisal is about people,” she said.
Dr Nzomo added teachers evaluate their performance against their targets and together with their supervisors, examine and discuss them in order to determine their strengths and weaknesses.
Mr Sossion, however, said several reasons had made the implementation of the programme difficult.
“Due to lack of computers, electricity, an unreliable or lack of internet connectivity in schools, teachers travel long distances to download the forms,” he said.
“While the country faces a serious shortage of teachers, the few who are in schools carry a burden of many lessons. Now the employer has aggravated the situation with the new tools.”
Reported by Vitalis Kimutai, Benson Ayienda and Ouma Wanzala