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TSC loses fight over trainee tutor grades

By Augustine Oduor | January 10th 2019

Teachers' Service Commission (TSC) Chairperson Dr Lydia Nzomo (left) flanked by TSC CEO Nancy Macharia issue their press statement on their position on threat by KNUT to disrupt 2019 first term programmes at their headquarters in Nairobi. TSC ordered all teachers to report on duty at their various schools by 3rd,January,2019 as scheduled. [Photo: Elvis Ogina.Standard]

A court has blocked the admission of some 6,000 trainee teachers who were enrolled in certificate and diploma colleges based on recently revised entry grades.

However, the Employment and Labour Relations Court also dealt a major blow to the Teachers Service Commission's (TSC) quest to reject the revised 'D' grade entry requirement.

Justice Byram Ongaya said the Education ministry had acted within the law when it directed the admission of students with the lower grade.

The court also dismissed plans by the TSC not to register teachers who were admitted with the low grades.

“Such turn of events will clearly be in contravention of public service values and the principle of efficient, effective and economical use of resources,” ruled Justice Ongaya.

The judge, however, directed the ministry to convene a stakeholders' meeting to resolve the matter, saying that until this happened, the admitted trainee teachers could not proceed with studies.

The ministry, through the Kenya National Qualifications Authority (KNQA), had set C– (minus)­ as the minimum diploma entry grade, and 'D' grade for certificate courses in new regulations gazetted last year.

Those wishing to train as teachers are presently required to have a minimum Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) grade of 'C' and also post quality scores in the respective teaching subjects.

Harmonise regulations

Justice Ongaya ordered Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed to urgently convene a stakeholders' meeting to harmonise TSC regulations with those of KNQA.

The Standard established that the meeting of officials from the TSC, the Education ministry and teachers' unions has been scheduled for Tuesday next week. 

It is, however, not clear whether the meeting will start and if a decision will be arrived at before the admission deadline.

Some 5,600 students had been admitted to 27 teacher training colleges by last week even as the court order effectively barred their training.

Justice Ongaya's ruling brought to the fore the rivalry between the Education ministry and the TSC on the admission requirements for trainee teachers.

In his 39-page ruling, Justice Ongaya dismissed the legal advice rendered by Attorney General Kihara Kariuki to the TSC on the matter.

Mr Kariuki had said that as far as setting of minimum academic entry requirements for persons entering the teaching service was concerned, the buck stopped with the TSC.

But Justice Ongaya ruled that TSC did not have a constitutional mandate to set training entry standards, saying the commission's key role was advisory.

“The court returns that there was no constitutional provision that the commission would by itself set or determine the standards of education and training of persons entering the teaching profession, or by itself set the demand for and supply of teachers."

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