Attorney General Kihara Kariuki has dismissed a decision by Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed to lower grade qualifying teachers for training to D.
In a letter to the Teachers Service Commission, Mr Kariuki said Dr Amina erred in her decision to gazette minimum standards set by the Kenya National Qualifications Authority (KNQA).
“The Cabinet Secretary cannot purport to exercise the power under Section 29 of KNQA Act, to perform a function that does not form part of the purpose of the Act,” said Kariuki in a letter dated November 26.
Amina gazetted the KNQA standards that set C (Minus) as the minimum diploma entry grade and D (Plain) for certificate courses.
Currently, the minimum teachers’ entry grade to certificate training is C and C+ for diploma colleges.
The letter, addressed to TSC Chief Executive Officer Nancy Macharia, was a response to the commission's inquiry for legal interpretation on the role of TSC and the Cabinet Secretary.
Dr Macharia, on November 14, wrote to the AG seeking clarification on who between TSC and the minister had the powers to set minimum academic qualifications for those who wanted to be trained as teachers.
Macharia wanted the AG to verify whether the CS had powers to advise the Government on matters relating to the teaching profession.
She also sought interpretation on whether Amina's rules were constitutional and if the CS could be instructed to revoke her regulations.
In his letter to Macharia, the AG affirmed that the mandate to set the minimum qualification for entering teaching profession rested with TSC.
“Our view is premised on the plain meaning of Article 237 (3) of the Constitution, which mandates the commission to review the standards of education and training of persons entering teaching service,” said Kariuki.
In a blow-by-blow response to the TSC inquiry, Kariuki maintained that the commission was an independent organ with mandate to set minimum qualifications for persons entering the teaching service.
“There is no law that vests the Cabinet Secretary or the KNQA with the power to set such standards and were it to be there, it would be unconstitutional and therefore null and void,” said Kariuki.
The decision is a major blow to the judgment of Amina, who had further issued a follow-up circular and maintained that the new grade would apply from 2018 admissions. “…the entry point to primary and diploma Teacher Training Colleges (TTCs) is hereby lowered from the date of letter until otherwise advised,” Amina had said.
Amina gazzetted the KNQA standards that set C– (Minus) as the minimum diploma entry grade and D (Plain) for certificate courses.
The decision comes as analysis of teachers’ performance in training colleges for the past five years returned a shocking mass failure.
For the last five years, a total of 29, 595 of 73, 032 (representing 41 per cent) failed sparking outrage.