The Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) has launched a fresh onslaught to dehorn the teachers’ employer through a constitutional amendment.
The amendment, if passed, will give the Ministry of Education more control over teachers’ affairs.
In a new proposal ratified by the union’s Steering Committee to the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), Knut now wants the constitutional protection of the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) be removed.
In its first submission to the BBI team last year, the union called for total elimination of the Commission.
The two organisations have been at loggerheads in the recent past, following sustained hostilities, which had at one point seen the TSC decline to deduct members’ fee on behalf of the union, in effect crippling its activities.
In its validation proposals, Knut also wants an independent body – with strong representation of teachers – established to regulate their professional conduct and to have six of the nine commissioners nominated by organised teachers’ unions.
According to the proposed arrangement, the TSC chairperson shall be the secretary and Chief Executive Officer of the commission.
Overall, the union wants the teachers’ employer to be domiciled under the Ministry of Education, which will also approve all its programmes and activities.
Private schools this week also called for checking of TSC powers, saying TSC should be at the level of the rest of semi-autonomous government agencies.
Kenya Private Schools Association (Kepsa) and the Kenya Association of International Schools (Kais) said TSC should only have part-time commissioners drawn from the key education stakeholders within the ministry.
In their submissions to the BBI team, Peter Ndoro and Jane Mwangi for Kepsa and Kais, respectively, said this would be the sure way of checking duplication of roles.
Presently, TSC is an independent commission and gets all its budgetary allocations directly from the National Treasury, a move Knut says has complicated the relationship between the employer and the sector heads at Jogoo House.
“Since the constitution appreciates that education has a vital role to play in the development of the country’s human, natural and material resources, and being the main enabler of socio-economic developments, the management of teaching and learning needs to be in safe and secure hands at all times,” reads the proposal to the BBI.
The TSC is established under Article 237(1) of the Constitution as a constitutional commission, with primary functions being to register, recruit and employ registered teachers.
The commission is also empowered to assign teachers for service in any public school or institution, promote, transfer teachers, discipline and terminate their employment.
This constitutional role effectively gives the TSC exclusive mandate over teachers with little or no interference from the ministry.
And now, Knut wants the Senator Yusuf Haji team to realign TSC directorates and sections in a grand merger that will streamline operations under the ministry.
“For instance, at the sub-County, County and regional levels, we shall only have one office handling education matters instead of two offices as is the case today. This will reduce running costs of the ministry with a lot of money left to hire more teachers,” reads the document.
The union also wants all quality assurance programmes strengthened and domiciled in the Ministry of Education. Presently, both ministry and TSC run quality assurance departments.
In its proposals, Knut lists six reasons why TSC must be stripped of its constitutional status and be brought under the direct control of the State Department of Basic Education.
The union says promotion of quality and relevant education can only be achieved if all teachers are under direct control of the ministry.
Knut further says accountability and proper decision-making in the sector can only be realised if the ministry exercises direct control and supervision of teachers.
The union also says for ease of protection of the right of every child and to provide equal standard of education in all public schools, there must be direct collaboration between teachers and ministry officials.
“Encouraging independent and critical thinking and cultivating skills, discipline and capacities for reconstruction and development can only be achieved through a combined effort of ministry officials and teachers,” reads the proposals.
The union makes reference to a recent fight between Ministry of Education and TSC senior officials at the Kisumu County office, which laid bare contests between the two offices.
A circular by County TSC Director Adow Bardad dated February 25 cautions teachers, who are under his direct control, from attending a meeting called by his counterparts from the Ministry of Education.
The meeting called by the Regional Coordinator of Education, an appointee of the ministry, invited head teachers of special schools, special units and integrated schools to a consultative meeting on February 27.
However, Adow warned teachers that his office had not been consulted over the meeting.
The communication reveals the hidden turf wars between the TSC and the ministry.
Two weeks ago, Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha poured his frustrations out to MPs, saying he is not in charge of teachers.
Appearing before the National Assembly Education Committee, Prof Magoha said he is the only sector head not in charge of teachers.
“We are the only ministry that is not in charge of teachers. It is about time you think about it because everybody thinks I am in charge of teachers. I have left wisdom to you,” he told MPs.
And this is one of the reasons listed by Knut to push for TSC to be placed under direct control of the ministry.
“Kenya is the only country in the world where minister has neither connection nor control of teachers. This has affected delivery of quality education seriously,” reads Knut proposals.