NAIROBI: Primary school heads have been accused of condoning child abuse and presiding over poor quality education.
Teachers Service Commission (TSC) Chairperson Lydia Nzomo said child abuse cases are more rampant in primary schools.
In a hard-hitting statement at the start of this year's primary school heads conference Monday, Ms Nzomo said TSC will soon publish names and photographs of teachers found guilty of sexual harassment.
Nzomo said in addition to gazetting the sexual harassment culprits, more radical decisions will be taken to protect children in schools.
"We value teachers and we know they can do well. But our concern is the protection of the child and quality of education in our learning institutions," she said.
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She also announced disciplinary measures for heads whose schools will not deliver quality education. She said school heads would be held "personally responsible" if the standards of education deteriorate.
"There is so much input from the Government and also from parents yet we do not find the output adequately matching. After eight years of learning, the quality of the product is still low," she said.
Speaking on the sidelines of the primary school heads conference in Mombasa, Nzomo said the Government must get value for the resources sent to schools.
"TSC will focus on two areas; quality of education and protection of the child. This means that discipline will be key and there shall be no time for sideshows," said Nzomo.
Statistics from TSC seen by The Standard show about 1,000 discipline cases were recorded last year alone. In the last financial year, 700 teachers were reported to have deserted duty while 98 teachers were reported to have practised immoral behaviour, including sexually molesting children.
"Under the same period we have also received cases of infamous conduct, professional misconduct, insubordination, incitement, fraud and negligence of duty," said Nzomo.
According to the data, Kiambu, Meru and Migori counties lead in cases of teacher absenteeism while Kakamega and Homa Bay lead in sexual harassment. Nzomo said the cases could be more if schools heads had reported all of them.
"Some heads connive with parents to protect teachers under the cover of finding local solutions. And parents who negotiate child abuse solutions with teachers will also be answerable to the law if it is proven they participated," she said.
A recent study has put teacher absenteeism at 40 per cent and noted that for tutors who are in school, nearly half of them do not actually teach.
The Global Monitoring Report — Education for All 2000-2015 — indicates that more than 40,000 of the 200,000 primary school teachers abscond duty translating to some 20 per cent absenteeism cases.
"We shall hold head teachers responsible for any cases of absenteeism, indiscipline or any unprofessional cases that are not reported. Things must change," said Nzomo.
She said TSC will not entertain any practices that lower education standards or injure the child.
"Not anymore. Heads under whose watch these practices are abetted shall face disciplinary action which includes demotion and interdiction," she said.
"Schools must be a safe haven for peace and one that leads to pupils' mental and emotional development. This is not the case in most schools and the commission shall be strict on teachers' role in enhancing these values," she added.