Counties demand control of nursery schools
By AUGUSTINE ODUOR and KAMAU MUTHONI
| June 8th 2014
Kenya: The fight for the control of nursery school teachers moved a notch higher with a proposal by the county governments to amend the Teachers Service Commission Act to allow them take full charge of nursery education.
In a raft of amendments released yesterday, the county leaders want to be involved in the management of pre-primary school education where counties hire teachers as well as discipline them as part of devolved services as spelt out in the Constitution.
The officials, drawn from the 47 counties, were led by their County Public Service Board (CPSB) chair Phillip Okungu and Council of Governors Deputy Chair and Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya.
These proposals are set to further complicate the simmering relations between the county governments and teachers’ unions over the recruitment and management of nursery school teachers.
Already, the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) has threatened mass action if the “constitutional mandate of the TSC is taken away”.
“These governors are inviting anarchy. They must drop these suggestions immediately. The Constitution was written through public participation and they can’t turn against it,” said Knut Secretary General Wilson Sossion.
But Mvurya denies that they are creating anarchy and insists that they are complying with the law.
Sossion claimed that the proposals are a wider scheme by certain individuals to disband the TSC.
He said county governments “can never and will never have capacity to run education.”
Education Cabinet Secretary Prof Jacob Kaimenyi said the governors have a right to make proposals but added these were merely proposals which may not necessarily be acceptable.
“It is their constitutional right to propose, but we know what they are looking for and it may not be the case,” he said at Nairobi School after presiding over the Book Harvest ceremony.
In their proposals, the governors said that under the new arrangement, the County Public Service Board (CPSB) could apply for the deregistration of a teacher found to have grossly violated the registration provisions and inform the TSC of the same.
However, TSC Secretary Gabriel Lengoiboni, dismissed the proposal, and said nursery school teachers fall under the commission.
He said Article 237 of the Constitution mandates TSC to recruit, deploy, remunerate, promote and discipline all registered teachers in public schools.
Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) national chairman Omboko Milemba took a swipe at the officers and noted that their wish will never be granted.
He said any attempt to sneak in any alterations in the Education Act and TSC Act through back door would be forcefully resisted by teachers.
The tussle over control of nursery school teachers has seen Knut move to court to stop the ongoing recruitment by county governments.
Both the county governors and the TSC argue that the Constitution places management of Early Childhood Development Education (ECDE) under their control.
Council of Governors chairman Isaac Ruto is on record faulting the argument by TSC and Knut, saying that the Constitution — under the Fourth Schedule part 2(9) — cites pre-primary education and childcare facilities as some of the devolved services.
Senators have also backed the push by governors’ to have total control of all pre-primary institutions including hiring and remunerating the teachers.
Some governors have launched a massive nursery teachers’ recruitment drive across the country, even as TSC prepared a draft scheme of service complete with the teachers remuneration plan.
KNUT was established in 1957, as an umbrella body of teachers which decentralised the handling of the affairs of instructors.
After its formation, it pressed for the employment of teachers by a central body which led to the establishment of the TSC in 1967. Ultimately, the TSC developed a code of regulations for teachers and has been responsible for hiring, disciplining and setting out salaries for various cadres of instructors
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