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Sorry, we can't afford Sh6,000 refresher course, teachers tell TSC

By Augustine Oduor | September 28th 2021

Teachers want the Government to shoulder the cost of training. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

An uproar has hit the national rollout of teachers’ professional training as opposition grows over the payment of the Sh6,000 annual fees.

Teachers who spoke to The Standard want the Government to shoulder the cost, arguing that tutors paid for their initial training in colleges and argue that the refresher courses as a responsibility of the employer.

The basis of picking only four institutions – two public and two private - to implement the refresher courses has also come into sharp focus with education stakeholders saying the 340,000 teachers spread across the country need fair access.

The mode of training and the duration of the refresher lessons is another sticky issue under interrogation, as stakeholders question whether tutors should take the lessons every year for 30 years of their teaching career.

Kenyatta University, Riara University, Mount Kenya University, and the Kenya Education Management Institute (KEMI) were picked by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to train the teachers.

Teacher Professional Development (TPD) is anchored in law under Section 35(2) (a) of the TSC Act that says the Commission shall require every registered teacher to undertake career progression and professional development programmes as may be prescribed by regulations made under this Act.

No public participation

Regulation 49(1) says that every teacher who successfully completes a professional teacher development programme shall be issued with a teaching certificate by the Commission in the manner prescribed under the Ninth Schedule.

And under Regulation 49 (3), a teacher who fails to take out a teaching certificate shall have the certificate of registration suspended until the teacher obtains the teaching certificate.

This means that all the 340,000 teachers will be required to undertake the refresher courses to keep their jobs.

The contract document signed between TSC and the four institutions to offer training says that each module will be taken every five years.

The modules have been organised into chapters that will be taken by teachers every year at a cost of Sh6,000.

However, even before the training starts, teachers now want the programme stopped as stakeholders’ poke holes into the plan.

Prof James Kiyiapi, former Education PS and lecturer at Eldoret University said TSC has failed in rolling out the plan.

Kiyiapi said public participation which TSC overlooked is important in rolling out the programme.

“Many teachers are not happy and several of them are condemning the TSC move. And this is because there was no public participation to explain TSC intent,” said Kiyiapi.

He said there must be a message to all teachers and the public on what the training is about, as all the teachers are already trained.

“It is important to explain that the planned training will serve to refresh teachers and to make them better in certain ways that they will state,” said Kiyiapi.

Close monitoring

TSC Chief Executive Nancy Macharia said they only signed a one-year contract with the institutions to offer refresher courses.

“We shall be watching and a committee will also be formed to monitor how the rollout is conducted,” said Dr Macharia.

She said the four institutions were picked competitively based on clear criteria and noted that the process was above board.

Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) secretary-general Collins Oyuu supported the TPD, but noted that ‘some details must be reworked.’

Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) secretary-general Akello Misori said the rollout must be subjected to public participation.

“This programme is good because it seeks to professionalise the teaching. But it must be subjected to public participation for acceptance,’ said Misori.

Kuppet National Chairman Omboko Milemba wants TSC to suspend the rollout of the TPD.

“We are asking TSC to suspend this process until we put all the instruments in place, do public participation, develop ownership among teachers before we can implement it,” said Milemba.

Former Knut secretary general Wilson Sossion, who previously opposed the TPD, accused union officials of vacating a solid judgment on TPD.

“The judgment codified all rights of teachers including TPD. The judge said the modules lack regulations/parliamentary approval and they must be reviewed,” said Sossion.

The selection of institutions to offer training is also in focus. Wesaya Maina, an education expert put TSC on the spot for not accrediting all universities with departments of education to offer the lessons.

“There are many institutions with solid education departments why were they sidestepped? Is TSC working for the government or private sector,” said Maina.

“We also have teacher interns and those employed by boards and who earn less than Sh20,000. How will they fit in this arrangement?” said Maina.

Former TSC Chief Executive Benjamin Sogomo said KEMI, which was set up to build workers’ capacity may have been better placed to contact institutions to roll out TPD.

“That is why it was set up and maybe it should have been allowed to sub-contract institutions to roll training under its supervision,” said Sogomo.

Kiyiapi said it was not wise to only select four institutions to offer refresher courses.

“The best idea would have been to arrange teachers into blocks and allow them to attend those classes from institutions around them. There are many education experts and professors across the country and they can go to those institutions to conduct the training,” said Kiyiapi.

He said it is not convenient for teachers from Mombasa to attend classes in other universities when there are Technical University of Mombasa and Pwani University near them. “Why should teachers from the western region come to Nairobi when there are Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, Kibabii, and Maseno universities there,” said Kiyiapi.

“And why not allow teachers from North Rift to study at Moi and Eldoret universities as those from Nakuru allowed to go to Egerton or Laikipia universities,” said Kiyiapi.

Moses Ayier, a high school teacher said the TPD Modules are welcome, however, argues that costing must be on the employer.

“There are issues such as family ties, access to the institutions offering the TPD training, and costs that come with movements and accommodation. These hidden costs make the teacher even more weary and hopeless about the future of teaching,” said Ayier.

Ayier said there is a need to review the TPD. “A happy teacher is a happy child. Engage the teacher and engage the child. Reward, Recognise, and motivate the teacher,” he said.

Mutilated payslips

Another teacher, Tomkim Barasa also said the one-week holiday teachers get when schools close is not enough for the lessons.

“We are delocalised and so one-week leave is basically for family. There are also teachers that are pursuing higher education like Masters and PhD what happens to them?” said Baraza.

He urged TSC to consider integrating the modules into TTCs and universities so that teachers graduate with the necessary skills.

Zablon Awange, Kuppet Executive Secretary said teachers must reject the Teachers Professional Development (TPD) rolled out by the TSC.

“Teachers’ payslips are already mutilated and to require them to pay Sh6,000 in addition to meeting costs of travelling to those universities,” said Awange.

The official said that the nonmonetary CBA signed by unions has not improved teachers’ payslips.

“The employer must not start punitive project despite being legally mandated because this will demotivate teachers and make the profession unattractive.”

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