Good news for intern teachers as 20,000 jobs are up for grabs

Intern teachers protest in Naivasha over their terms of employment in May 2024. [Antony Gitonga, Standard]

At least 20,000 intern teachers will now get permanent jobs beginning in July.

On Tuesday, a parliamentary group meeting of the ruling coalition Kenya Kwanza, held at State House, heard that funds have been provided to absorb the teachers next month.

The teachers will be instrumental in executing teaching in junior secondary schools as the pioneer class enters Grade 9 in January next year.

At the same time, the Kenya Kwanza parliamentary group was also informed that Sh18 billion has been provided to employ all junior secondary teachers on internship.

This follows a standoff between the teachers and the employer - Teachers Service Commission - over their employment status. The allocation towards the employment of the intern teachers comes after months of a standoff, a strike, layoffs and even a pending court case between the interns and the employer.

While appearing before Parliament in May, the Teachers Service Commission indicated that it required Sh30 billion to convert all the intern contracts to permanent and pensionable terms.

Due to budget shortfalls, TSC sought to employ the teachers in two batches; the first was to absorb 26,000 teachers and the second recruitment would admit the remaining 20,000.

For the first batch of 26,000 teachers, the Teachers Service Commission (TSC ) projected Sh6.6 billion would be needed to convert intern posts to permanent employment.

This now means that the Sh18 billion will be sufficient to successfully hire the first cohort of 26,000 interns in permanent and pensionable terms.

As a result, the fate of another 20,000 interns will remain uncertain with as funds are not appropriated in the 2024/2025 budget.

The employment of teachers on an internship basis has been a point of concern leading to a standoff, a strike, layoffs and even a pending court case between the interns and TSC.

The interns argue that they are subjected to unfair labour practices as they execute the same workload as their peers on permanent and pensionable terms but are paid much less.

In April, the Employment and Labour Relations Court suspended the employment of tutors on an intern basis agreeing with the interns that it was an unfair labour practice.

But the teachers' employer contested the decision by Justice Bryum Ongaya at the Court of Appeal and got a reprieve recently.

The court’s three judges said the hiring of teachers in internship positions be stopped until an appeal is heard and determined. 

This means, TSC now has the last laugh as the aggrieved teachers will have to continue working as interns until the case filed by the Dr Nancy Macharia-led commission is heard and determined.

In the application, TSC claimed that the orders by Justice Ongaya had thrown its operations into a spin as the money required to hire the intern teachers on permanent and pensionable terms was not budgeted for.