TSC pokes holes in Munavu task force's recommendations

Teachers Service Commission boss Nancy Macharia. [File, Standard]

Education reforms proposed by the Raphael Munavu team could be in jeopardy following a stinging rebuke of some of its recommendations by the Teachers Service Commission.

In a brief to the Parliamentary Departmental Committee on Education, the TSC has accused the Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms (PWPER) of trying to emasculate it by stripping it of its supervisory and managerial role over its employees.

In the paper presented to the MPs in Mombasa early in the week, TSC Chief Executive Nancy Macharia accused the reforms team of failing to consult with the commission on teacher management issues before compiling its final report as directed by State House.

“And while other key stakeholders were invited to the report validation meeting, TSC was not invited,’’ said Dr Macharia, adding that the team failed to consider the input of the commission on critical matters involving teachers and that it not only failed to visit the employer as it toured other institutions, but it also excluded it from the list of organisations that submitted their memoranda.

If implemented as it is, Dr. Macharia said, the report would strip the commission of its constitutional mandate, deprive it of its independence and require amendments to the constitution through a popular initiative.

The commission specifically points out a recommendation that gives the Education Ministry powers to develop guidelines on how all teachers who graduated before 2023 would undergo a mandatory one-year curriculum upgrading programme, describing it as an error because it ignores the commission’s ongoing teacher training upgrades. It also restricts employment opportunities for teachers and alters the registration requirements as set out in the Code of Regulation for Teachers.

The TSC is also unhappy with a recommendation that gives the ministry exclusive mandate to review entry grades for pre-service teaching programmes, saying giving the responsibility to Jogoo House would amount to usurpation of the commission’s constitutional mandate.

The reforms team suggested new entry grades for teachers in various categories but the commission says the proposals are not harmonised with the existing registration requirements under the TSC and that they pose a threat to the subject-cluster approach.

Another contentious submission by the reforms team is that which directs the ministry to establish a comprehensive school system where all levels of learning from pre-primary 1 to grade 9 are managed as one institution.

This, TSC says, would expand its powers to the management of pre-primary education - a preserve of the counties - increase the number of headteachers, force a review of the career progression guidelines and lead to increased expenditure and therefore a higher budgetary provision for the commission.

However, the TSC says it would be ready to take up the change because it has the institutional capacity but on condition that county governments expressly agree to transfer management of its pre-primary teachers to it.

Parliament would also have to develop an enabling legal framework for the creation of comprehensive schools, says TSC.

The reforms team also directed the TSC to start offering all education graduates an opportunity for mandatory one-year internship programmes upon completion of pre-service training. However, the commission says this would disrupt its ongoing internship policy and that it would require additional funds to engage all graduates and force a change in registration requirements.

According to the PWPER, TSC should henceforth consult with the ministry to harmonise teacher management guidelines on deployment, promotions and teacher welfare. However, the TSC rejects it, saying strategies for teacher management is its own exclusive preserve.

“The recommendation to have another entity to co-share in this responsibility will amount to usurpation of the commission’s powers and its operational independence. It will also render irrelevant the existing policies, create ambiguity and lead to conflicts in institutional management.”

On a suggestion that the ministry discontinues the categorisation of schools into National, Extra-County, County and Sub-county in favour of career pathways, TSC says it would force a re-distribution of teachers based on their competencies, create a need for more teachers for new learning areas.

The commission also takes issue with a recommendation that admission requirements for the B. Ed degree continue to be determined by the universities’ Senates, saying it may lead to a lack of standardisation of grades for the teaching degree.

Another recommendation which the TSC deems controversial is the reform team’s decree that the function of quality assurance and standards be the sole function of the ministry and that the commission should confine its mandate to the teacher as a professional and employee within the framework of performance evaluation and not quality assurance.

“This would adversely affect the commission’s job as a regulator of the teaching service and as an employer in addition to impairing its mandate to promote, reward, mentor, coach and discipline its employees. Quality of teaching will be compromised if the role of monitoring teachers is taken away from the commission,” says the TSC

By declaring that the TSC has no role in schools and that it should seek permission from the ministry before dealing with any teacher, the reforms team was asking Jogoo House to directly supervise and control the commission which would have to cede its control over its own employees with regard to supervision and professional development.

“Some of the recommendations proposed by the PWPER require amendments to the constitution through a popular initiative and statute law. It is the commission’s considered request that retaining those clauses will not only affect the TSC’s mandate but will also impair the efficient management of the teaching service,” says Dr Macharia.

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