Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed has suffered a major blow in her attempts to lower entry grades to teacher training colleges after Attorney-General Kihara Kariuki told her she has no such powers.
The AG said only the Teachers Service Commission is mandated to prescribe the entry qualifications and fell short of revoking the recent admission of thousands of students into colleges with lower grades.
The development is a major victory for the TSC which had rejected the plan and to sought the AG's advice who ruled that the CS had no role in determining the entry grade.
Ms Mohamed last month ordered that the grades for diploma courses be lowered from Kenya certificate of Secondary Education C+ to C- and for certificates from C to D.
Thousands of students were absorbed by the colleges, which were hungry for students due to poor performance in national examinations for the last two years
The CS lowered the grades for students from marginalised counties and backdated it to candidates who sat the KCSE from 2006.
The counties are Turkana, Samburu, Wajir, Marsabit, Isiolo, Mandera, Garissa, Lamu, Baringo, Narok, Kajiado, Kwale, Kilifi, Taita Taveta, Tana river and West Pokot.
She explained that the move was meant to address the issue of teacher shortages in those counties.
TSC rejected the move and wrote to the AG on November 7, saying: "It is the commission's case that the CS has acted outside the ambit of her powers and encroached on its constitutional mandate to review standards of education and training of persons entering the teaching service."
The AG wrote back on Monday describing Ms Mohamed's move as irregular and adding; "The TSC is the state organ with the constitutional power and mandate to set the minimum qualifications for persons entering the teaching service. There is no law that vests the Cabinet secretary or the Kenya National Qualifications Authority (KNQA) with power to set such standards and were it to be there, it would be unconstitutional and therefore null and void to the extent of its unconstitutionality.”
Mr Kariuki said the CS cannot purport to perform a function that does not form part of the purpose of the KNQA Act.
“We are of the opinion that the setting of minimum qualifications for entry into the teaching profession is one such function that does not form part of the purpose of the KNQA Act,” he said.
He went on: “We are of the considered opinion that in so far as the setting of the minimum academic entry requirement for persons entering the teaching service is concerned, the buck stops with the Commission.”