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Sh7.4b to hire teachers

BUSINESS
By | July 23rd 2011

By Augustine Oduor

About 18,000 teachers will be employed by October 1 if Parliament approves radical proposals by the Parliamentary Budget Committee to reallocate Sh5 billion in the Budget.

An additional 10,000 teachers will be hired in January, next year, to bring the total to 28,000 new teachers if the proposals are passed by the august House in a historic move following a provision in the new Constitution that gives Parliament more powers on the Budget.

The allocation will bring to Sh7.4 billion the money for the employment of new teachers because it is in addition to Sh2.4 billion that Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta had already allocated to the Ministry of Education for the hiring of contract teachers. This move will cut the teacher deficit from the current 61,000 to 33,000.

Education PS James Ole Kiyiapi said yesterday that the Sh2.4 billion to be transferred to the TSC was the cash allocated to the ministry to pay contract teachers.

The rest of the cash has been sourced from reallocation of various recurrent votes in the Budget estimates. The committee also proposes that cutting back on foreign travel and purchase of vehicles raise extra funds.

Initially, the Budget committee had reallocated Sh5.5 billion to TSC for the employment of the teachers, but reduced the amount in the report tabled in Parliament Thursday.

The failure by Finance Minister to allocate enough money to absorb these teachers almost threw the sector into disarray after the two teacher unions threatened to rally teachers to a nationwide strike.

This prompted a chain of reactions from all education stakeholders, with calls for reallocation of funds to employ teachers.

Kiyiapi said the ministry had requested an additional Sh10.1 billion to fund ‘critical areas’, but got only Sh6 billion. The critical areas he said included cash to streamline Early Childhood Development Education (ECDE) and hiring of the 28,000 teachers.

But in its Budget request, TSC asked for Sh4.4 billion allocation to give all contract teachers permanent status, and another Sh3.6 billion to employ additional teachers.

Speaking yesterday, the Kenya National Union of Teachers Chairman Wilson Sossion said the Government must ensure teachers are employed every financial year to stem the shortage.

"They must employ 10,000 teachers every financial year. We will not relent on this because Kenyan children need teachers for proper education," he said.

Focus now turns to Parliament where the proposals will be discussed by MPs as the two teachers’ unions wait with bated breath.

Knut had petitioned the Ministries of Education, and Finance and the Parliamentary Departmental Committee on Education and threatened to rally teachers to strike if additional teachers were not employed by July 1.

In the run-up to the strike deadline, the Treasury convened an urgent meeting between Ministry of Education, TSC and Knut to negotiate the employment of the teachers. The group has had two consultative meetings with the last one held last week.

Sossion said if the proposal were passed, the conversion of the contract teachers and employment of the additional lot would be delayed by three months.

"We agreed that all the contract teachers be employed by October, and after three months the additional 10,000 be absorbed," he said.

He said the proposed money is not enough to employ teachers immediately.

"If we convert the contract teachers by October and employ the rest in January, that is about six months that we are saving to raise cash," he said.

With this development, education stakeholders would be upbeat that Parliament could avert a looming showdown between the Government and the teachers’ unions.

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