Teachers who graduated a long time ago but are currently unemployed can smile because their employer has said they will be considered in the next recruitment round.
Previously, the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) locked out those above 45 years in their selection criteria.
While the High Court ruled that the age limit was unconstitutional, the process favoured younger graduates. This move opens doors for thousands who were jobless or for one reason or another had been employed in the private sector past the preferred age.
Members of the National Assembly sought assurance after investigating why there is discrimination based on age or year of graduation.
TSC chairman Jamleck Muturi promised those who have been absent that they will be prioritised in the exercise in response to a question from Malava MP Malulu Injendi.
"During the recruitment, we will consider the time when the teachers graduated and the grade strength. We encourage even those teachers with 58 years to apply so that they can be considered to serve the commission for the remaining period before they attain the retirement age," Muturi said.
He added: "To ensure transparency, the guidelines are structured so that those who graduated early are given the first priority."
Muturi said 14,733 teachers have sought transfers to their rural areas. This comes after the commission ended the delocalisation policy, which had placed teachers in schools outside of their rural communities.
These teachers have applied to be deployed back to their home areas.
"As a commission, we will consider all the issues of teachers in terms of delocalisation and ensure we take care of their requests as well as the constitutional mandate of the commission to ensure the schools have teachers," Muturi said.
He said the majority of teachers want the employer to affect their transfer due to ill health, family bonds, and advanced age.
For the second time in a week, the teacher's employer was asked to explain why thousands of teachers have served in an acting capacity while others have been stuck in the same job group for years without being confirmed or promoted.
Injendi also challenged the commission to explain why it failed to hire 6,000 interns despite government funding.
Injendi urged the committee to levy a surcharge on the commission for what he called sleeping on the job.
"The chairman should explain to us why the teachers were subjected to anguish and learners were not being attended to when the government had released the money to hire the teachers.
"Where is the Sh720 million that was supposed to pay these teachers in the last six months?" Injendi said.
"Assure us that affirmative action will be used and teachers who graduated first will get the slots."
But Muturi said the process of recruitment started immediately in July this year after the employment of 5,000 teachers on permanent and pensionable terms.
He urged all teachers who meet the requisite qualification to apply for the available vacancies, saying no teacher will be left out.
For junior secondary, the commission has allocated one teacher per class. Primary schools will receive teachers, according to the number of classes they have for Grade 7.
According to the teachers' employer, primary schools will receive tutors based on the number of Junior Secondary classes they have. In January 2023, the commission promised to place one teacher per class.
He said successful teachers will be distributed evenly across the country in all 47 counties, with the remainder going to counties in desperate need.
"Distribution of teachers has been done proportionate to the number of classes available. For example, Kiambu, which has 846 classrooms, will receive 249 permanent and pensionable teachers, as well as 597 intern teachers, for a total of 844 teachers," Muturi said.
He cited Kakamega, Kitui, Kisumu, and Makueni as the country's understaffed counties.
"Distribution of the 5,000 intern teachers have been shared equally whereby each county will get 21 teachers while the remaining 13 teachers will be posted to counties with acute shortage," Muturi said.
Muturi said primary teachers who have upgraded their academic papers will be considered for service in the Junior Secondary, and that retooling will be done to ensure they have the necessary competences to handle the learners, stating that this will ensure schools have enough teachers.
"TSC will redistribute teachers who are in primary schools and have upgraded their studies in recent years. They have the necessary qualifications to teach in JS," he said.
Clive Gisairo, the Kitutu Masaba legislator, wanted assurances from the commission on who would run the Junior Secondary when they were domiciled in the primary system.
"Is the administrator going to be the one teacher who is posted in the schools? Will the schools have different management in the same school or how will that be done?" asked Gisairo.
According to the commission's legal officer Cavin Anyuor, the Grade 7 students will continue to be managed by the head teacher of the school where the JS will be housed.
"As it stands now, the administrator will still remain the head teacher of the primary school hosting the Junior Secondary until the time when the JS will have fully taken off," Anyuor said.
He said the number of teachers hired each fiscal year is determined by the treasury's budget allocation.
Muturi was forced to take an oath after MPs piled pressure on him to reveal what the commission was concealing about teacher recruitment.
"The previous recruitment was completed efficiently and without delay; what happened with this one? Is there anything you're keeping from us? You must take an oath because our power is equal to that of the judiciary," said the chairman of the parliamentary select committee on education.