Poor living conditions and low pay for national examinations officials will take centre stage as secondary school teachers hold their annual general meeting today.
Full roll-out of the existing Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and beginning of talks for the next phase of salary increments of up to 70 per cent will also form part of the high level meeting that brings together 1,000 delegates.
It also emerged that conditions to the looming transfers of head teachers and principals recently announced by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) will also be laid bare today.
Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) officials also told Saturday Standard that bottlenecks around the government’s push for 100 per cent transition will be discussed during today’s meeting at Kenyatta University, Kitui Campus.
Kuppet Secretary General Akelo Misori and National Chairman Omboko Milemba said the meeting will call for an overhaul on how national examinations are administered with a major focus on the welfare of the teachers.
“Over the years we have talked about the plight of teachers during administration and marking of the national examinations.
“It is a high time we revisited how best this can be done because it is treated casually by the government,” Misori said.
Union officials said the teachers continue to get low pay and are subjected to inhumane living conditions that do not befit the national exercise they are engaged in.
“They sleep in funny dormitories, some queue to shower and the toilets are pathetic. These conditions have hurt many teachers,” Misori said.
“The same teachers spent a whole month getting examinations from the containers during wee hours of the week.”
Kuppet officials said due to lack of beds, examiners had been forced to sleep on the floor while others were sharing beds.
He said despite Knec’s commendable efforts to guard the examinations at the school level, it should be compelled to broaden the reforms to cover the entire scope of exam management.
Saturday Standard has established that the examiners are paid between Sh46 and Sh75 for each script they mark. And lately, Kuppet said, the examiners are made to work between 6am and 10pm.
Teachers who mark English papers are paid between Sh60 and Sh75 per script while those who mark Kiswahili papers get between Sh65 and Sh70.
Mathematics and Biology scripts are paid at a rate of Sh55 to Sh58 while Physics and Chemistry papers range between Sh52 and Sh55.
History papers are paid at a rate of Sh56 while Geography scripts are rated at Sh58 per script. Business Studies and Agriculture are the least rated at Sh46 per script.
These were the subjects that nearly brought this years marking exercise to a halt as examiners demanded higher pay.
Milemba accused Kenya National Examination Council (Knec) of using “cheap labour” to achieve its plan of releasing the KCSE results before Christmas.
“Quality marking must be separated from timelines that are simply supposed to make one look like they have beaten another timeline,” Mr Milemba said.
“Examination marking is not a marathon race. Quality is important in such a process.”
The details come as marking of the 2019 KCSE examinations ended with reports indicating release of the results may be towards end of next week.
Kuppet also said they will push to have a meeting to discuss use of chemicals in schools following reports that some teachers and candidates wetre affected in the just ended national tests.
Today’s meeting is a culmination of branch meetings across all the 47 counties that started in January 2019.
Ordinary teachers have also been invited to take part in the deliberations expected to draw recommendations that will be sent to Ministry of Education for action.
On the impending mass transfers, Kuppet said teachers’ age, marital status and health conditions must be considered before they are moved.
“The government cannot have a policy of separating families or removing the terminally ill from their caregivers,” Misori said.
He added that the union acknowledges the government’s financial constrains but opposed employment of intern teachers. “We continue to advocate for remuneration and establishment of infrastructure in schools. This includes relentless pressure to employ more teachers,” Misori said.
On salary increments, the union officials say they have already made a 30 to 70 per cent pay increment and harmonisation of allowances for all teachers under the 2021 to 2025.
If granted as proposed, the lowest paid teachers (Grade C2) earning minimum salary bands of between Sh34,955 and Sh43,694 will have their pay increased to between Sh59,425 and Sh74,280.
Highest paid teachers (Grade D4) earning minimum salary bands of between Sh118,242 and Sh141,891 will have their new pay adjusted to between Sh153,715 and Sh184,458 per month.
On allowances, Kuppet is pushing for the current commuter allowance rate reviewed upwards by between 30 and 70 per cent of the current pay.
This means the current rates of between Sh5,000 and Sh16,000 across job groups will be raised to between Sh8,500 and Sh20,800 per month.
House allowance will be harmonised across all grades with a town allowance to all teachers in urban areas. The harmonised pay will range between Sh16,500, for lowest paid teachers, and Sh45,000 for highest earners. Township allowances for Nairobi and county headquarters have also been proposed to range between Sh4,000 and Sh8,000 per month.
Kuppet is also pushing for a hardship allowance payable to teachers’ assigned duties in Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) with an increment of 50 per cent from the current rates.
The allowances presently range from Sh10,900 to Sh38,100 but will now increase to between Sh16,350 and Sh57,150.
On schools infrastructure, Kuppet said they will propose that each primary school gets a secondary wing to better manage the 100 per cent transition.