Teachers with university degrees, whom the TSC has employed as interns, are earning less than some non-teaching staff at the schools where they serve, union officials have said and called for higher pay.
The Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut), Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) and Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association (Kessha) say the trainee teachers are demoralised so the contract terms should be reviewed.
The Teachers Service Commission pays interns posted to secondary school Sh15,000, which decreases to about Sh10,000 after statutory deductions.
They pay Sh1,200 for a mandatory personal accident cover while Sh3,000 is sent to the Higher Education Loans Board (Helb), Sh800 to the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF), Sh600 to the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) deducts Sh 600 and Sh1,741 as Pay As You Earn (Paye).
Those posted to primary schools earn an average of Sh10,000, which decreases to about Sh6,000, after a PAYE of Sh1,116 and contributions to the NHIF and NSSF.
During Kepsha's 15th annual conference in Mombasa County on Thursday, secondary school principals noted that watchmen employed by school boards of management earn an average of Sh15,000 a month.
As such, Knut and Kuppet want the TSC to exclude the 10,300 interns from the delocalisation programme so that they work within their home counties.
Mr Malel Langat, Knut's Bomet Secretary, his Sotik counterpart Mathias Langat and their Kuppet colleagues Paul Kimetto (Bomet) and Zablon Awange (Kisumu) warned of a negative impact on the quality of education across the country.
“Sadly, the interns have been engaged on contracts for one year yet there is no provision or guarantee for them to be employed on permanent and pensionable terms after the expiry of the contracts,” they said in Sotik on Thursday.
Mr Malel said, “President Uhuru Kenyatta needs to personally take charge of this matter and avert a crisis, that is slowly snowballing into a disaster in the education sector, that would be very costly for the country to correct in the future."
He added, “Much as we support the government’s efforts to create employment, the education sector is not a place for trial and error. All the trained teachers should be employed on permanent and pensionable terms."
The officials asked the TSC to set aside enough money for employment of teachers to bridge the shortage of 100,000 teachers in public schools, instead of taking a piecemeal approach in replacing those who left the service due to natural attrition.
Mr Awange said, “When the TSC advertises vacant positions at an average of 5,000 teachers to be employed on a yearly basis, what the country is not being told is that the shortages in schools continue to widen with increased intake."
Mr Kimetto stated, “When you pay teachers an average of 8,000 a month, you [are giving them the] minimum wage for a house-help, which is an abuse [considering] the donkey hours they gave studying for years and the cost of their education.”
Mr Langat said, “Besides the deductions, the interns have to pay rent, cater for their own transport, food, clothing and other incidentals, and provide for their families."
A principal who did not want to be named said the interns were demoralised.
"It is affecting service delivery. Some of them cannot make ends meet and are from far-flung counties. Watchmen in our institutions earn better than they do."
In a separate statement, Kuppet's national vice chairman Julius Korir and Bomet Central MP Ronald Tonui, the union’s assistant national treasurer, said it was not economical to post the trainee teacher to far-off counties.
“When you hire teachers as interns, with a paltry gross salary of Sh 15,000, then post them outside their regions, they will not be motivated to work hard as the money cannot sustain them," Mr Tonui said, adding the low pay renders the engagement unworthy as it does not make economic sense.
Mr Sammy Chelanga, Kuppet's secretary in charge of tertiary institutions, and Narok branch secretary Charles Ngeno regretted the requirement for the personal accident cover and the interns "do not have money in the first place".
Mr Chelanga said the quality of education in public schools was highly compromised by the shortage of teachers hence the need for a serious solution by the government.
“Partial employment of teachers, especially to replace those who leave service due to natural attrition, is not a solution to the shortage problem, coupled with the fact that there has been sharp rise in the number of schools and learners across the country."
A survey the TSC conducted in 2018 found a shortage of 10,000 teachers, a major challenge as the government seeks to achieve 100 per cent transition from primary to secondary school, and then to colleges.
The commission, in the report titled ‘National Staffing Position in Post Primary Schools’said Bomet and Migori were most affected, with teacher shortage rates of 58 per cent each.
Busia and Trans Nzoia Counties also tied at 54 per cent each while Nairobi and Kiambu were in the tail end of the list with 24 and 23 per cent respectively.