KUPPET officials seek constitutional review to boost teachers' representation

KUPPET Executive Secretaries, from left, Moses Thogo (Kiambu), Moses Mbora (Nairobi) and Lynett Kamadi (Mombasa) during a press conference in Nairobi. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

Secondary schools’ teachers are demanding for the expansion of their representation on the national level.

The members of the Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) want a review of the current union’s constitution to align with the Constitution of Kenya.

This will give all members the right to participate in the affairs of the union and cater for gender parity and representation of teachers living with disabilities at the national level.

Speaking at a city hotel in Nairobi, regional leaders led by Executive Secretary, Nairobi Moses Mbora, reiterated that this will ensure all counties will have equal representation to the national delegates conference in proportion to the number of teachers in their branches.

The teacher’s leaders, drawn from the regions of Coast, Kiambu, Kajiado, Nairobi, and Machakos, observed that this will give them a bigger role in the management and decision-making processes, as well as ensure more union members participate in electing national leaders.

‘‘The two fundamental principles that have animated the union’s membership include the expansion of elective positions from 10 to a higher number and the adoption of proportional representation (Pro Rata),’’ said Mbora.

However, KUPPET has registered branches all over Kenya, with the membership growing to more than 120,000, with the union’s character, including its leadership, not catering adequately for the increased membership.

‘‘This unprecedented growth has revealed many weaknesses of the existing Constitution, which are being addressed through the review. Decision-making has remained in the hands of just 480 delegates, like it was in 2010, with none of the union’s national executive leaders coming from the new branches,’’ he stated.

Executive Secretary, KUPPET Mombasa Branch, Lynett Kamadi, said the system will give a voice to all teachers, including those from populous and marginalized groups, and bring gender parity into play.

She said women's representation has remained unacceptably low, with only one woman elected to national office. teachers living with disabilities have also not been properly represented.

 ‘‘For many years, the union has taken measures to recruit, develop, and nurture leadership talent from among women, the youth, teachers living with disabilities, and marginalised groups, as well as Junior Secondary teachers,’’ she said, adding that such measures have included the creation of an exclusive trustee position for the Coast and ASAL regions and the selection of delegates from the regions to important union committees.

Reacting to statements made by some KUPPET leaders in Machakos recently, Moses Thogo Executive Secretary Kiambu said the review of the constitution was not earmarked to extend office tenure to old officials who want to cling to power after their retirement age.

 ‘We have noted with deep concern wild allegations by some unscrupulous delegates over the union’s on-going constitutional reforms. Speaking in Machakos two days ago, the delegates uttered blatant falsehoods concerning the constitutional review process,’’ he said.

He condemned the latter for assuming that the process was crafted from last year’s Annual Delegates Conference to extend the retirement period of the current officials.

‘‘We urge our colleagues to desist from cheap politics, disinformation, and tribal manoeuvring. They should openly explain their opposition to Pro Rata, which is their real grievance,’’ he stated.