TSC delays on transfer requests causing teachers untold agony

Teachers Service Commission (TSC) CEO Nancy Macharia before the National Assembly Education Committee on February 28, 2023. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) risks losing many teachers to death through depression if transfers are not going to be handled with care.

The commission has a well-structured policy document that spells out the objectives, legal framework, pathways and personnel to be involved in the management of teacher transfers.

The TSC basically considers the following factors when addressing transfers; age, health, teachers with alternative abilities, promotion, and proximity to the home county.

The commission will also consider school size, the performance of the school, school category as well as family considerations with regard to the teachers’ comfortability, among other factors.

The TSC may further consider to transfer a teacher from one institution to another based on the need for equitable distribution and optimal utilisation of teachers, availability of a vacancy in the proposed station, the need for replacement, existing staffing norms which may be reviewed from time to time, medical grounds as certified by a registered medical practitioner and any other grounds that the TSC may consider necessary to warrant the transfer.

Teachers may also be transferred under the following circumstances. One, after study leave. A teacher granted study leave exceeding six months shall apply for posting by the Commission at least 30 days before the expiry of the leave.

Two, after a leave granted to spouses of persons in diplomatic service. A spouse of a person in diplomatic mission/service shall apply to the commission for posting one month before the end of assignment of duty.

Three, after disciplinary action like interdiction or suspension for a period not exceeding six months without payment of salaries and allowances. Four, after transfer of service to the Public Service Commission. The TSC may, where a person applies for transfer of service from the public commission to the TSC, approve the transfer subject to availability of a vacancy.

Five, after expiry of tenure at a trade union like the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) and other unions within the teaching profession after a substantive appointment.

Six, a teacher who is promoted and substantively appointed will be redeployed/transferred to another station subject to availability of posts such as headship, deputy headship and senior masters. Seven, after posting from a primary to a secondary institution.

Eight, after applying to the commission for transfer on medical grounds with supporting evidence. Nine, when working conditions are hostile and may jeopardise the teacher’s wellbeing and security and also if there is need for equitable distribution and optimal utilisation of teachers. Ten, when teachers agree among themselves on tenable swoop request to the TSC.

Sadly, the TSC has either by default or intentionally, chosen not listen to the requests for transfers as stipulated in their own Teacher Transfer Policy and acting with necessary speed.

The commission’s acts have prompted her own officers to commercialise and make this particular policy a cash cow. The second most abused and corrupt department at the commission, after the TSC’s accounts, is the transfers' department.

As we appreciate our own efforts of repealing the teachers delocalisation policy that was a horrible annex of transfers and the efforts of many other friends of teachers from the National Assembly, we must take note that some teachers' marriages have broken, some strong and young teachers have left the profession to other fields, our teachers have been sacked for reasons related to poor management of transfers and even lives of teachers have been lost.

Obtaining transfers from the commission is an almost impossible journey one may never want to take. To most teachers, getting a transfer is more difficult than even getting a job in the commission; especially if one has no one to assist them and "something" to motivate the assisting person.

Why should it be so? Why should a need with well outlined procedures of management be made so difficult for members of the same profession?

There is need for robust strategies and determined effort to sanitise the process and make it professionally manageable. When the online transfer application was initiated, the thinking was that there would be minimal human interference and therefore fairness would prevail. Unfortunately, little has been achieved. This has led to untold suffering of the affected members.

The commission should now be called out to focus on wellness of teachers not only in regard to financial management, abuse of drugs and sicknesses but also on effects of unfulfilled transfer needs that may lead to depression and even death through suicide.

We propose that the TSC dedicates an entire floor at their headquarters with a fully-fledged department to address transfer matters. It should also have a guidance and cancelling section to handle some of the matters that may run out of hand.

A study should be conducted on the effects of unfulfilled transfer requests to teacher performance in both primary and secondary schools in Kenya. This will show several factors, including social economic reasons that retard teacher performance. May be from the findings, the employer might understand the gravity of the problem.

We also remind the commission that there are many teachers who are still waiting for their letters to get back to their homes after the delocalisation was lifted. Act with speed.

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