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DEOs lose powers over teachers

COUNTIES
By By AUGUSTINE ODUOR | May 5th 2012

By AUGUSTINE ODUOR

The Teachers Service Commission has stripped District Education Officers of their powers to manage teachers’ affairs with immediate effect.A letter seen by The Standard on Saturday lays out the changes meant to turn the  TSC into an independent body with more control over hiring, firing, and disciplining teachers.


Also removed from the chain of command are the Education Ministry’s Provincial Directors of Education.As required by the new Constitution, starting this month, the task of managing teachers’ issues now rests with 47 county directors of education.
In a letter sent to all DEOs, Commission Secretary Gabriel Lengoiboni announced people had been identified to take charge of teacher management.


“Consequently, your agency in regard to the teacher management functions as per the TSC Act (Cap 212) of the Laws of Kenya and legal Notice No 95 of 1971 is hereby revoked with effect from May 1,” read the letter.Lengoiboni’s letter is copied to Minister for Education Mutula Kilonzo, acting Permanent Secretary, George Godia, acting Secretary to the Cabinet, Francis Kimemia, and acting Provincial Administration PS, Mutea Iringo.


TSC has instructed all district officials to hand over all records on teacher management to the new county directors. With their powers withdrawn, DEOs will now only perform ministry duties such as supervision of curriculum implementation and quality assurance. They will no longer have the powers to hire, promote, discipline or transfer any teacher starting this month.


Prof Godia said there should be no conflict between DEOs and county directors as they discharge their duties. He said DEOs would manage schools, sit on school boards, and manage their calendars of events, such as sports and drama.
But in a move to allay fears over job security, Lengoiboni added the changes would not render DEOs irrelevant.


“We shall continue to partner in areas of mutual interest to promote quality education,” read the letter.Of the eight PDEs, only Patrick Nyagosia of Central and Geoffrey Cherongis of Nyanza assumed the new county positions, with postings to Nakuru and Nairobi.


According to a document seen by The Standard On Saturday, county directors will head TSC offices in counties, and be answerable to the commission secretary. Their schedule of duties will include facilitating the processing of teachers’ registration, managing the deployment of teachers in consultation with TSC headquarters, and co-ordinating teacher recruitment.


They will also have powers to manage payrolls, handle promotions, re-deploy teachers within their counties, and maintain a database of all vacancies for teachers and secretariat staff. Lengoiboni, however, said DEOs would sit on various panels handling recruitment and discipline.


“These officers (DEOs) will still be useful. They will sit in various panels and this will be important because they will work together with the directors,” he said.The Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) has already instructed branch members to stop dealing with DEOs on teachers’ matters.


Professsional freedom 


National chairman Wilson Sossion said: “We have told our officials that from now on they deal with county directors only on matters of human resource, transfers, discipline, payroll, and all that,” he said.He said the changes mark the beginning of independence for teachers and asked Knut members to see this as a step towards greater professional freedom.
“We have instructed branch secretaries to assist the directors to settle by giving them an easy time,” he said.


The new officers are expected to handle all discipline matters as per guidelines provided by TSC, ensure compliance with set teaching standards, prepare and monitor budgets. They will also supervise, monitor and evaluate performance, set targets and submit quarterly reports to headquarters. Lengoiboni said that a comprehensive schedule of these directors’ duties would be unveiled during induction next week.


TSC’s effort to roll out county services comes even as it awaits Sh4.9 billion it had requested from Treasury for the changes. In its spending plans, TSC proposed to limit headquarters to supervisory and co-ordination roles, with many of its functions conducted at the counties.


When asked, Lengoiboni declined to comment on how the delay in funding was affecting these planned changes.But the tentative budget on recurrent spending is clear staff currently employed are too few for decentralisation.“The commission proposes to recruit 702 staff at senior level to specifically manage the discipline and promotion functions at county level,” reads the note.TSC proposes a county structure with an average of 76 staff per county, bringing to 3,572 the number required in all the counties.


Confidential documents seen by The Standard On Saturday show TSC requires Sh3.6 billion for staff payments for the 47 counties, and Sh4.9 billion for operational and maintenance costs. Each county will get about Sh76 million for pay and Sh8 million for operations. A one-off amount of Sh950 million will be used to refurbish TSC offices and buy motor vehicles, furniture, and computers.Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere says Somalia terror group Al Shabaab was behind the Ngara church grenade attack that killed two worshipers and injured 15. Attacker’s photo has been circulated.

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