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Teachers union correct on disruptive teacher transfers

By Frankline Sunday | December 25th 2018
Delegates during the KNUT's 61st Annual Delegates Conferance at the Bomas of Kenya,Nairobi [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) last week issued a two-week strike notice threatening to pull its more than 300,000 members out of classrooms on January 2, 2019.

KNUT Secretary General Wilson Sossion said the call to industrial action was due to continued ignorance by the government through the Teachers' Service Commission (TSC) of teachers’ plight.

“This time, the issue is not salaries and we are going on strike because the teacher’s employer continues to ignore various concerns raised such as new statutory deductions, pending promotions, teacher transfers, and performance appraisals,” he said.

Mr Sosion singled out the move by the TSC to transfer thousands of head teachers across the country under the recent controversial delocalisation policy.

TSC introduced the delocalisation policy – transferring teachers who have served for a number of years to new stations in different counties in a raft of reforms at the labour commission, arguing it would improve efficiency and promote diversity.

However, KNUT has said the teacher transfers have had a detrimental social effect, separating families and disrupting households with president Uhuru Kenyatta earlier this year asking the TSC to review the policy. Policymakers have generally frowned upon the policy of transferring or shuffling teachers in the public school system.

In the first, place the process creates significant disruption when teachers have to abandon relationships they have formed with students and parent communities over a period of time.

Time is lost when teachers are removed from communities and placed in new places and have to form new relationships from the scratch.

Policy makers in India were criticised when a teacher transfer programme saw an exodus from public schools as parents enrolled their children to private schools to avoid the disruption. Another report in the US found that shuffling teachers from strong schools to help boost weaker schools created a cyclic problem where young and well-performing teachers never stayed in one school long enough to form meaningful bonds with students.  

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