Teachers who are pursuing higher academic qualifications have been dealt a blow following a new directive by their employer which discourages them from studying during holidays.
The Teachers Service Commission on Wednesday said the holiday-based courses were interfering with teaching in schools.
The commission instead asked teachers to take advantage of its study leave policy, which it argued would ensure the quest for further education is granted to those who merit “in a structured and organised manner that does not infringe on the right of learners to access quality basic education”.
However, with a shortage of 155,000 staff across the country, it is not clear how teachers will get study leave and focus on their studies at the expense of teaching.
The development is also a blow to both public and private universities, which have invested in the school-based programmes.
TSC however said the programmes had made teachers abdicate their duties and were spending valuable school time undertaking private studies.
The commission added that the trend had adversely affected curriculum delivery and compromised quality teaching in most public schools.
It has therefore called for an audit of all teachers undertaking studies during school holidays.
“Institutional administrators are directed to compile a comprehensive list and details of teachers undertaking private studies on school-based programmes and submit to their respective sub-county directors for monitoring,” TSC chief executive Nancy Macharia said.
In a circular dated April 17 to TSC county directors and head teachers, Ms Macharia said curriculum implementation and delivery remains the core function of the teaching service and must be given priority.
The directive is a setback to thousands of teachers who have taken loans to further their studies with the hope of getting promotions.
At the same time, TSC has said primary school head teachers and principals of secondary schools and colleges must have bachelor’s and master’s degrees, respectively, under the new education policy.
Their deputies are also expected to have similar qualifications as school heads take a more prominent role in the performance of their institutions.
However, teachers’ unions accused TSC for issuing unilateral guidelines without proper consultations.
Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers acting secretary-general Moses Nturima termed the circular “offensive and written in bad faith”.
“They know that we do not have enough teachers in schools and quality has been affected by its failure to staff our schools. They should not pretend that the quality is down because teachers are going to enhance their studies,” Mr Nturima said.
Kenya National Union of Teachers secretary-general Wilson Sossion asked TSC to focus on its mandate and leave quality assurance to the Education ministry.
“We ask teachers to teach and conclude their syllabus on time. After that they should use their free time to further their studies,” Mr Sossion said.