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Teachers want interviews stopped over new degree rule

Sunday December 15 2019

TSC boss Nancy Macharia

TSC chief executive Nancy Macharia and other officials from the commission face the National Assembly's Education committee on the recruitment of teachers in Turkana County, December 3, 2019. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

VITALIS KIMUTAI
By VITALIS KIMUTAI
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OUMA WANZALA
By OUMA WANZALA
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The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) is in the eye of a storm after it insisted that teachers seeking promotions to secondary school principal positions must possess a Master’s degree.

The candidates were shocked when they turned up at interview centres only to be turned away for failing to meet the new requirement despite having made the shortlist.

TURNED AWAY

It has emerged, for example, that out of the 17 shortlisted candidates for the positions of secondary school principals in Narok, Kericho and Bomet counties, only five were cleared to sit the interviews with the rest turned away.

“Only five of us were cleared to enter Kaplong Boys Secondary School in Sotik constituency, Bomet County, which was the venue of the interviews for those from the South Rift on Friday,” said a candidate who was among those locked out of the interviews.

He added: “TSC should come out and clear the air on why we were shortlisted and invited for the interviews only to be turned away at the gate for lack of Master’s degree certificates.”

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The candidates who declined to be named for fear of reprisals said the Master’s requirement had been sneaked into the list of qualifications by TSC as it was not one of the demands when they filled the application forms online.

SPIRIT OF FAIRNESS

Interestingly, some of the affected teachers had been appointed by TSC to serve as acting principals for the past two years in various stations due to a biting shortage of qualified head teachers.

The others were either heads of departments or deputy principals in various institutions.

Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) and the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) have demanded that the interviews be cancelled and the process be started afresh in the spirit of fairness.

Ms Nancy Macharia, the TSC chief executive, admitted that pertinent issues had been raised by the teachers and trade unions on the matter, which needed to be addressed.

“Concerns have been raised by the teachers, with Kuppet having formally written to TSC on the matter,” said Ms Macharia.

She made the admission in a speech read on her behalf by Mr Ibrahim Mumin, the TSC director in-charge of administration during the Kuppet’s national Annual Delegates Conference (ADC) held at Kenyatta University Campus hall in Kitui County.

SOCIAL CONCERNS

“We are faced with a challenge on the discrepancies and the commission is looking at internal instruments to address the issue in an amicable manner,” said Ms Macharia.

Kuppet’s national chairman Omboko Milemba said TSC should shelve the requirement until a clear and agreed policy framework on the matter is developed and rolled out.

Mr Milemba said the teachers’ employer ought to withdraw the demand and conduct the interviews afresh.

“It is important to note that even when one is being picked as a commissioner, there is no requirement for him/her to have a second degree to qualify for the position,” said Mr Milemba.

According to Mr Misori, TSC introduced the career progression guidelines which did not require Master’s degrees.

At the same time, Kuppet wants TSC to conduct transfers of teachers across the country set for this month with a human face.

Mr Misori said the union supported the decision but TSC should put into consideration the age, marital status, health conditions and other social concerns of the teachers.

DISRUPTED LIVES

Mr Misori observed that transfers that were effected last year disrupted the lives of many teachers.

“The commission has the obligation to consider the welfare of its employees in making decisions on deployment,” said Mr Misori.

TSC is all set to transfers principals, their deputies and head teachers next week ahead of school reopening in January.

TSC has already concluded interviews for 7,000 for schools heads and their deputies positions.

This will be the third consecutive year that TSC will be transferring the administrators in an exercise that in the past witnessed protests from Knut after about 100 of their branch officials were transferred two years ago.

Last month, TSC concluded interviews for administrators after advertising the position mid this year.

NEW GUIDELINES

TSC said it was hiring 1,000 principals and deputies for secondary schools and 6,000 head teachers and their deputies for primary schools, who are now expected to be posted to new stations this month.

Those that have already been interviewed ahead of new positing are 16 chief principals in Grade D5 for national schools and 516 principals who fall under Grade D3.

Also recruited are 91 deputy principals I in Grade D3 as well as 204 deputy principals II in Grade D2.

In December last year, the commission transferred 3,094 teachers but only 360 appealed against the transfers.

In May 2018, Ms Macharia released new guidelines demanding tutors serve at least five years in the counties where they are posted before they can seek a transfer to their preferred regions.

On collective bargaining agreement (CBA), Mr Misori said the union has already started talks with TSC.

AGENCY FEE

“Our demand is for salary increment of between 30-70 per cent, for the highest paid and lowest paid teachers. The current CBA offered classroom teachers nothing concrete and must be addressed,” said Mr Misori.

He added that the union has so far managed to register close to 120,000 members.

The union, he said, will be marking 21 years of existence this year.

Kuppet chairman asked branch officials to step up recruitment of new members especially teachers who are paying agency fee to the union.

Agency fee payers are not members of the union by law and they only pay a fee for having benefited from the negotiation by the union.

“However, these are first potential members, please go flat out and turn them into real members. Please treat them right and fairly, because soon they will be the members, who will be determining the direction through their democratic voting right,” said Mr Milemba.

100PC TRANSITION

He asked the government to construct more classes in order to accommodate more learners under the 100 per cent transition from primary to secondary school.

The union also wants the government to ensure that all primary schools have a secondary school wing to realise 100 per cent transition.