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Knut and Kuppet split over TSC's push to review mandate

 Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi leads TSC CEO Nancy Macharia, Education CS Ezekiel Machogu and TSC chairman Jamleck Muturi in unveiling the TSC 2023 -2027 strategic plan on July 6, 2023. [Denis Kibuchi, Standard] 

A rift has emerged among Kenyan teachers' unions over proposed revisions to the law governing the teaching profession.

The Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) has vehemently rejected the proposals, terming them "punitive" and demanding exclusive talks with the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) before engaging in wider discussions.

However, the Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) has indicated it will participate in the planned consultation forum.

Knut Secretary-General Collins Oyuu criticised the proposed law changes as "short on notice" and "punitive to teachers".

He emphasised the union's unwillingness to participate in the forum without prior direct engagement with the TSC.

“If you look at the draft proposals, page by page, it is very punitive to teachers. I want to say that we are not ready to be scolded anymore,” Oyuu said.

In contrast, Kuppet has adopted a more conciliatory approach, opting to participate in the consultation forum while reserving its specific responses until after reviewing the proposals in detail.

The changes seek to amend the Teachers Service Commission Act 2012 – the governing law in the teaching profession – and would significantly expand its powers, potentially reigniting a simmering conflict with the Ministry of Education.

In a proposal to amend the Teachers Service Commission Act, the changes aim to give the TSC regulatory powers over teachers.

This division among teacher unions adds another layer of complexity to an already heated debate on the rift between the teachers' employer and the Ministry of Education who have previously clashed over conflicting points of view.

A letter by Knut seen by The Standard addressed to TSC confirmed the union's threat to skip the engagement forum slated for Wednesday.

Oyuu termed the TSC invite did not allow them enough time to prepare for the contents of the amendment.

Among the changes, Knut is opposed to including a proposal to have TSC continue with the implementation of teachers' professional development.

The contentious proposal clashes with earlier proposals by the Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms that proposed for this function be handed over to the Education Ministry.

Oyuu argues that professional development should be reserved for a separate entity while TSC should concentrate on its role as an employer.

The union also challenges TSC’s ambition to regulate its own practice and procedures as proposed in the amendment Bill. This, the union says, goes against Article 249(2) of the Constitution.

The union also questions the proposal to punish teachers without strict rules of evidence as proposed by the TSC Amendment Bill.

Knut argues that there is a need for a committee that includes TSC officials and union members to review TSC decisions when a teacher is facing disciplinary action.

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