Fresh storm is brewing in the education sector over the management of 300,000-odd teachers employed by the government.
With fights between the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) and the giant teachers union on professional issues raging, MPs have now been roped in to intervene in the looming mess threatening to destabilise the sector.
Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha gave a glimpse into the looming tiff this week when he tipped MPs to have a re-look into the present law that does not empower his office to be in charge of teachers.
Appearing before the National Assembly Education Committee, Magoha told MPs that he is running the only ministry that does not have control over teachers.
“We are the only ministry in the region that is not in charge of teachers. We are the only sector head that is not in charge of teachers,” Magoha told MPs.
Making submissions before the Julius Melly-led committee, Magoha said: “It is about time you think about it because everybody thinks I am in charge of teachers. I have left the wisdom to you.”
Melly (Tinderet MP) said the constitution empowers the TSC to manage all teachers even as Magoha poured out his frustrations.
Inside sources at the TSC however say the statement by Magoha will not be taken lightly as it is set to revive the silent rivalry between the Ministry of Education and TSC that dates back to 2012.
Last year, Magoha said TSC and the ministry had streamlined operations and called for smooth coordination of government programmes.
It emerged that the lack of powers to hold head teachers to account on financial impropriety does not rest easy with top Jogoo House officials.
But the bad blood did not start yesterday. After the promulgation of the 2010 Constitution, TSC became an independent commission with sole powers to manage all trained teachers in Kenya.
Rivalry started in 2012 when Gabriel Lengoiboni, the TSC secretary, revoked the agency contacts that enabled Provincial Directors of Education and District Education Officers, who were then under the ministry, to manage teachers.
The TSC revoked the agency in regard to the teacher management functions as per the TSC Act (Cap 212) and legal Notice No 95 of 171.
This meant that TSC had stripped all the PDE’s and DEO’s off their powers to manage teachers’ affairs in a radical move to entrench itself as a constitutional commission.
The TSC then created County Directors of Education (CDE) structures that effectively replaced the old order, rendering the once powerful ministry staff irrelevant.
And even as the ministry also established its own county structures in line with the constitution’s provisions of devolved units, the bad blood between TSC and ministry staff kicked off.
The fight has been so pronounced that successive Education Cabinet Secretaries have each attempted to act in a manner suggesting they should be in charge of teachers.
The latest statement by Magoha adds to the growing list of calls to check the powers of TSC, which may only be undertaken through a national referendum.
In 2014, under CS Jacob Kamenyi, TSC fought to maintain its independence, as various arms of government united to contest its core function of teachers’ management.
An advisory by then Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC) sought to have various sections of the TSC Act amended to open up control of teachers to Ministry of Education.
The CIC argued that the Constitution gives the national government, through the Ministry of Education, responsibility over schools yet teachers and principals are employed by the TSC.
“...CIC wishes to bring to your attention some other provisions in the TSC Act 2012 and the Basic Education Act 2012 which are in conflict with the letter and spirit of the constitution,” read a letter signed by Elizabeth Muli on behalf of Commission chairperson, Charles Nyachae.
The CIC wanted a review of section 11 (e) and (2) of the TSC Act to provide for mechanisms through which head teachers and principals, as employees of the TSC, can relate with the Ministry of Education, which it argued, is the national government institution mandated to manage primary and secondary schools.
The idea was to have the ministry have more control on school heads, contrary to the constitutional provision that tasks TSC with the exclusive mandate of recruiting, remunerating and disciplining all government employed teachers.
The onslaught against TSC came as the ministry under Kaimenyi and TSC engaged in a vicious fights that saw senior officials of the teachers’ employer even boycott some of the meetings convened by the the ministry.
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