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Knut in court to block 12,000 intern teachers jobs

BUSINESS
By | Aug 19th 2009 | 3 min read
By | August 19th 2009
BUSINESS

By Wahome Thuku

Teachers who applied for the 12,000 intern positions now have to wait for a court ruling to know whether they would be hired.

This follows filing of a suit by the giant Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) seeking to block the exercise.

Justice Abida Ali-Aroni will rule Wednesday morning on whether the case should be heard during the vacation and if the recruitment of interns should be suspended.

Knut wants the recruitment stopped, claiming hiring interns would violate the law and regulations on employment of teachers.

Through their secretary general, Lawrence Majali, Knut asked the High Court to stop the exercise scheduled to start on Friday, pending the determination of the case. Knut claims the decision was made without giving them a hearing yet they had a stake in hiring of teachers.

Last week the Ministry of Education advertised 10,500 vacancies for intern primary and 1,200 for secondary schools.

Each of the 210 constituencies should receive 50 teachers for primary and 10 for secondary schools.

Those interested are required to submit their applications to the boards of their schools of choice by Friday.

The exercise, announced by the ministry will be finalised on Wednesday, August 26, and those selected should report to work on September 7. The teachers will be hired on contract as interns.

Lawyers Paul Muite and Evans Ondieki appearing for Knut termed the move a violation of the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) Act, which regulate the hiring of teachers, terms and conditions of service and disciplinary procedures.

The union named the Attorney General, the Ministry of Education and the PS as respondents. It also enjoined TSC as an interested party.

Knut filed the case under a certificate of urgency appealing to the court to hear them during the ongoing vacation.

Muite told the Nairobi duty judge that the ministry was moving expeditiously to recruit the interns.

Follow The Law

The union wants the decision quashed and the Minister for Education and PS compelled to comply with the law in the recruitment.

It claims the decision was a violation of natural justice, illegal and above the minister’s powers.

In his affidavit, Majali said the law defined a qualified teacher and that did not include an intern.

He said the intended recruitment was contrary to a binding agreement between the TSC, Knut and the ministry.

The union claims the minister and the PS want to pursue vested political interests and to reward their friends and surrogates instead of considering professional qualifications. "The minister has taken into consideration irrelevant populist ideas as opposed to sound educational policy in arriving at the decision," they argue.

Meanwhile, Minister for Education Sam Ongeri brushed off Knut’s initiative to stop the recruitment.

"They, (unions) can go to court, but on what basis, they know it best," Ongeri said, yesterday.

The minister said thousands of teachers who have stayed out of employment for more than ten years are desperate for jobs.

Out In The Cold

"Ask those teachers who have stayed outside for 10 to 15 years if it is a bad thing, all of them have applied to be hired on contract," said Prof Ongeri.

He was responding to claims the exercise will create two cadres of teachers hence cause disharmony among teachers.

Knut and the Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) said they would seek legal redress to stop the recruitment.

"They should have gone to court a long time ago when the policy was being deliberated on," said the minister.

Ongeri said law to recruit intern teachers does not mandate TSC. The current TSC Act does not allow the commission to recruit teachers on contract. Neither does the law allow the ministry to hire teachers.

Ongeri said the Ministry of Education has the capacity to recruit interns through the school management committees, Boards of Governors and the District Education Boards.

— Additional reporting by Sam Otieno and Fatuma Fugicha

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