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Nursery teachers pain, pay headache

EDUCATION
By Augustine Oduor | August 17th 2021

Some 80,000 nursery school teachers are pushing for better salaries even as they fight to be moved from county governments to the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) payroll.

This is after it emerged that County Governments are yet to implement the new schemes of service for Early Childhood Education (ECDE) teachers that was ratified by stakeholders three years ago.

The new schemes of service which were to be operational from July 1, 2018, were to benefit some of the nursery schools registered by the TSC.

The details emerged during a media sensitization meeting organized by Africa Early Childhood Network (AfECN), a professional body that brings together experts to promote and coordinate children's rights.

Ministry of Education ECDE director Moriasi Gari said the major milestone in nursery education was the completion of the schemes of service.

“The Schemes of Service for ECDE teachers is finalized and the minimum qualification for ECDE teachers would be diploma in education which has been infused into primary teacher colleges,” said Gari.

The schemes of service provides a well-refined career structure to attract and retain suitably qualified and competent ECDE teachers in the service.

It also provides for well-defined job descriptions and specifications with clear delineation of duties and responsibilities at all levels within the career structure.

Gari said the diploma qualification for nursery teachers training is aimed at improving the quality teaching of the children at the basic level.

Gari told the meeting that the Ministry has also put measures in place to streamline nursery education, which is now compulsory under the competency-based curriculum.

He said the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) developed competency-based curriculum for Early Years Education with pre-primary education for four and five years old.

KICD Chief Executive Charles Ongondo said curriculum design for PPI and PPII and other instructional materials were developed long ago and are in schools.

Gari also said that Ministry has incorporated the ECDE into short and long-term education and training plans as part of measures to support the counties.

But even with these developments, ECDE association national chairman Lawrence Otunga said nursery school teachers are presently paid varied salaries by the County Governments.

“The worst paying County is Kericho where teachers are earning Sh8000 before deductions while Turkana is the best paying County and teachers are earning close to 50,000 per month,” said Otunga.

Otunga said the Early Childhood Education Act, (2021) compels the counties to remunerate all ECDE teachers according to the terms of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC).

“But most counties are underpaying the ECDE teachers. There are no retirement benefits and the teachers are subjected to endless contracts with unfair terms of employment,” said Otunga.

Schedule 4 of the constitution outlines pre-primary and vocational training as functions of the County Governments.

However, the national government is mandated to develop educational policies, curriculum, maintain standards and national pre-primary education policy, examinations as well as training and capacity building.

Otunga said nursery tutors should be part of TSC payroll as they fit the definition of teachers as contained in the TSC Act.

“We are trained teachers but Counties are clinging on us with colonial names because if they refer to us as teachers we shall not fall under them,” said Otunga.

A brief from Council of Governors office said that they are mandated to oversee pre-primary education and childcare facilities including the recruitment of the teachers and assistants.

Otunga said if Counties implement the ECDE scheme of Service, teachers would be paid according to their qualifications.

The Schemes of Service establishes six grades of Assistant ECDE Teachers who shall be tutors trained at certificate level. Their job groups will range from F to K.

Another six grades of ECDE Teachers are created under the Diploma level with job groups ranging from H to N.

The scheme creates seven other grades for graduate teachers who will fall under job groups K to R.

Teachers with certificates in Primary Education or ECDE wishing to upgrade their credentials to diploma levels have been asked to apply for admission into the Teacher Training Colleges (TTCs).

The training program targets trained teachers who have Certificate ECDE and Primary Teacher Education (PTE) to Diploma in Early Childhood Teacher Education (DECTE).

Basic Education, Dr Julius Jwan made the plea in the communication sent to regional and Country Directors of Education across the country to sensitize qualified teachers to apply.

Dr Jwan said that the applicants must be registered by the TSC and must also have and should also possess valid certificates.

Jwan said applicants will undertake specially designed courses and teaching practice for a specified period before qualifying for the Diploma.

“Those with a Certificate in Primary Teacher Education (PTE) will be awarded a Diploma Primary Teacher Education (DPTE) while those with ECDE Certificate will be awarded a Diploma in Early Childhood Teacher Education (DECTE) at the end of the training programme,” said Jwan.

The scheme defines nursery teachers’ duties to include facilitation of play/learning activities; preparation and maintenance of professional records such as schemes of work, children’s progress records, records of work, lesson notes and other records; development and organisation of play/learning materials.

Nursery teachers are also expected to organise the curricula and co-curricular activities; guide parents on children’s rights and progress, counsel and care for children.

Management and maintenance of ECDE centres/classes and the school in general; and the maintenance of discipline is also listed as key roles of the teachers.

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