A fresh battle looms between teachers and the Government over plans to hire 18,000 interns in public schools.
The unions claim the Ministry of Education has proposed the hiring of intern teachers early next year when free secondary education will be rolled out in fulfillment of the Jubilee government's 2017 election pledges.
Each teacher will be paid Sh15,000 per month as opposed to the Sh21,757 that newly employed teachers take home, according to Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) and Kenya Union of Post Primary Teachers (Kuppet).
Knut and Kuppet top officials have warned of industrial action should the Government press on with the proposals to employ teachers on short-term contracts.
Kuppet Chairman Omboko Milemba and his Knut counterpart Wilson Sossion have faulted the ministry’s plan, arguing it is illegal to employ teachers on short-term contracts.
They instead want the Government to employ 40,000 teachers on permanent and pensionable terms.
“We have learnt with shock that the Government, through the Ministry of Education, wants to employ intern teachers. The ministry has no legal basis to employ teachers,” said Milemba, also Emuhaya MP.
“This will be a back-door policy. It is only TSC that is allowed to hire teachers and not the ministry.”
Milemba and Sossion claimed Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi hadproposed to introduce a sessional paper in Parliament early next year to validate the process of hiring interns.
“Dr Matiang'i wants to circumvent the process by bringing a sessional paper to Parliament to hire 18,000 interns who will in turn be paid Sh15,000 per month. This is hiring teachers through the back door. We will not accept it,” Milemba alleged.
Monday, efforts to contact Matiang'i were futile as he was said to be out of the country.
Teachers Service Commission chief executive Nancy Macharia responded: "If you remember my statement, during the recent Form One selection exercise, I stated that the TSC had requested the government to set aside money to recruit 12,696 annually over the next four years. This is meant to be on a permanent and pensionable basis."
Monday, union bosses said they were opposed to the amount to be paid to the interns.
“How do you pay a teacher Sh15,000 per month? This is what we call underemployment and underpayment,” said Milemba.
He claimed the Education ministry had no powers to recruit teachers.
“Teachers must be employed on permanent and pensionable basis. It is only the TSC that has the powers to recruit teachers,” he added.
Sossion said teachers passed a resolution opposing plans to hire teachers on internship basis.
“They are preparing to introduce a sessional paper in Parliament that will allow the hiring of interns. It is an injustice that we will fight to the bitter end,” said Sossion, also a nominated MP.
“In our last meeting we passed a resolution that all trained and graduate teachers be employed on permanent terms. Anything short of that we will not accept,” he added.
“We are demanding that TSC hires all trained teachers. They have been trained using taxpayers' money and have now been left out,” said Sossion.
Two months ago, TSC announced recruitment of 3,786 new teachers was underway.
In a letter to the National Treasury seen by The Standard, TSC requested the Government to provide Sh15.85 billion per year for the recruitment of 24,027 teachers annually for five years starting next year.
?The 3,786 new vacancies for teachers is aimed to replace those who have left the service through natural attrition from July 1 to August 31, 2017.
However, it is not clear whether the interns have been budgeted for.
Teachers have also faulted the new curriculum rollout, saying no adequate preparations have been made by the government to train teachers.