When we thought the Teachers Service Commission and the Kenya National Union of Teachers had entered a pact to work together to collectively deal with staffing and stabilise the education sector, they are back in the trenches with daggers drawn.
Mistrust and suspicion persists between the two agencies and, clearly, there is a fundamental problem here that must be addressed.
The TSC has the mandate over teacher management while Knut handles welfare. They serve the same people and, in organised systems, as much as they disagree, they ought to have commonalities on matters of policy and execution. But they seem to thrive on conflict rather than coexistence.
CESSATION OF HOSTILITIES
This is disruptive to the education sector, which is the reason we revisit the matter and call for cessation of hostilities.
The current dispute is centred on the following: Transfer of teachers from their localities; promotions; in-servicing of teachers under what is called teachers professional development (TPD); and job appraisal. We have argued before that these issues can be negotiated and resolved but only in an environment of trust and goodwill.
For example, the TSC has expressly pronounced itself on the reason for the transfers and, administratively, there is nothing untoward about it.
But Knut claims that they are done in an inhumane and haphazard manner that inflicts pain on teachers rather than resolve staffing challenges. The facts are easily reconcilable; why must it take blood to arrive at an amicable resolution?
Some two weeks ago, the TSC and Knut met and set up a committee to discuss and make recommendations on the controversial issues and submit a report within a given time-frame. But hardly had the ink dried on the deal than they began pulling apart and tearing into each other, demonstrating there was no goodwill.
One wonders whether that committee can tackle the issues with sincerity.
Teachers are busy preparing candidates for national examinations, which are due in a few weeks. Non-examination classes have a fairly shorter period and there is a race to complete the syllabus. It is a busy term and peace and stability are paramount.
So, the discordant voices from the TSC and Knut are creating a sense of restiveness.
This belligerence and bickering is not healthy for the education sector. The era of high-handedness and chest-thumping is gone — now the mantra is dialogue and consensus. The two agencies must agree to iron out their differences.
They must avoid the game of hard tackles that they seem to cherish, for that is detrimental to delivery of quality education.