The Teachers Service Commission on Wednesday appeared to repudiate its own policy on career credentials, declaring that promotions will henceforth be determined by productivity and not academic qualifications.
This new stand, spelt out by TSC chief executive Nancy Macharia, will deal a huge blow to more than 30,000 teachers who have acquired higher academic qualifications since 2014, hoping to earn promotions.
Mrs Macharia told the National Assembly’s Education and Research Committee that under the new arrangement no teacher will be promoted based on academic qualifications.
“We carried out a job evaluation with the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) and agreed that promotion be based on work done. You will be paid for your job worthiness and nothing else,” Mrs Macharia told the committee.
Responding to questions from MPs on the fate of teachers who have invested their own savings on earning higher credentials, Mrs Macharia said such teachers will be given opportunities to head learning institutions but only on merit rather than mere academic papers.
Late last year, the TSC announced that primary head teachers and their deputies must have a minimum of a first degree in education, while their secondary colleagues will be required to possess a master’s degree in education.
The announcement saw many teachers rush back to universities to safeguard their jobs or earn promotions.
Mrs Macharia said then that teachers without the required academic qualifications will be given time off work to go back to school, creating an enrolment boom for universities, which have lately seen their student capacities shrink as a result of a drastic drop in the number of Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education candidates qualifying for higher education in the last two years.
The shrinking number of university qualifiers has been attributed to stern exam administration and marking procedures introduced under immediate former Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i to curb cheating, which had become rampant over the last decade.
The country has about 23,000 heads in public primary schools and about 8,600 in secondary.
The Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) has been pushing for the promotion of teachers with higher academic qualifications and has already registered a dispute over the matter with the Labour ministry.
Mrs Macharia insisted: “It is still a requirement that head teachers of primary schools be graduates. Those with degrees will be able to compete for higher positions.”
She said head teachers who do not meet their targets will no longer be demoted or deployed to class but will instead be sacked.
“Under the new arrangement, we are making substantive appointments of principals and head teachers. We are no longer redeploying them; if one fails to deliver, you just exit the service and nothing else,” she told the committee chaired by Mr Julius Melly (Tinderet).
She added: “The policy is premised on the provisions of the 2017-2021 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) negotiated with the teachers’ unions. It is intended to streamline the process of selection, appointment and deployment of institutional administrators as well as categorisation of learning institutions.”
In a report to the committee, Mrs Macharia said new management tools have created a performance-oriented culture in public learning institutions.
“Appraisals have given teachers an opportunity to identify their professional weaknesses,” she said, adding that the commission is planning to rollout professional development programmes in April.
“Under this programme, all registered teachers will be required to undertake continuous professional development courses to deepen their knowledge in subjects of specialisation for better learning outcomes,” she said.
The commission had also developed career guidelines to replace the old schemes of service and had incorporated recommendations of a job evaluation report which is part of the 2017-2021 CBA.
The Knut has already sought the intervention of the Labour ministry in a trade dispute with the commission on teacher appraisals, transfers and promotions.
In a February 15 letter to the Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed, Knut’s secretary-general Wilson Sossion wants the minister to address the row over implementation of a policy on delocalisation of heads and principals, introduction of performance contracting and appraisals for classroom teachers.
“These matters should be treated as urgent. You have seven days from the date of this letter to address this issue,” the letter said.
It adds: “In accordance with section 62 and 65 of the Labour Relations Act, No 14 of 2007, we hereby reinstate the dispute regarding failure by TSC to recognise and compensate teachers who have attained higher relevant academic qualifications for promotions and salary increments dating back to 2014.”