During these gloomy times, teachers can look forward to next year with optimism after their employer doled out promotions to about 15,226 tutors. Schools are set for full re-opening on January 4, 2021 after being closed for nearly ten months due to Covid-19 pandemic.
The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) called for applications from teachers for deputy principals, senior lecturers, curriculum support officers, head teachers, senior masters and deputy head teachers.
While this is good news to lucky teachers, the move could deal a blow to Kenya’s oldest teachers’ union, Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut). The promotions, TSC said, would be based on the career progression guidelines, which the union has vehemently opposed.
Consequently, thousands of teachers have quit Knut and weakened the once giant union, which at one point had nearly 300,000 members.
The matter has been taken to courts of law where Knut secretary general Wilson Sossion accused the TSC boss Nancy Macharia of defying a court order on a Sh54 billion collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The employer insists that those opposed to the career progression guidelines, which have been a bone of contention between it and Knut, should not benefit from the CBA.
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- 2 Teachers employer switches off analogue communication channels
- 3 Knut issues two-week strike notice over pay
- 4 School heads may lose their supervisory role in changes
This has effectively weakened Knut. However, the court nullified a 2018 circular outlining the basic requirements for career progression, training and promotion after Knut insisted that the guidelines would weaken the teaching fraternity and sorority and leave them at the mercy of their employer. Sossion accused the TSC of going against the code of regulation of teachers and took the matter to International Labour Organisation, International Trade Union Confederation and Education International, the global body for all teachers’ unions.
The altercation is unfortunate and should be resolved urgently as we approach schools’ re-opening. Knut has already issued a strike notice if TSC does not implement the CBA for all teachers. It would be unfortunate to restart learning with a dark cloud of industrial action hovering over the education sector.
Knut has seen its membership drop from 187,471 teachers in 2019 to about 51,215 today. This does not augur well for teachers who have a right to join a union of their choice and in which they have confidence on matters concerning their welfare.
And even as the matters are being dealt with in court and other arbitration avenues, we urge TSC and Knut leadership to spare a thought for the learners who have been patiently waiting for a restart. They have been hunkering for knowledge and a teachers’ strike should not be in the list of worries. Already, there is the virus and school fees to contend with.