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TSC shocker: Inside new proposals to strip power, transfer roles to ministry

 Teachers Service Commission (TSC) building in Nairobi. [File, Standard]

The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) is headed for major shake-up that may limit its powers in the management of nearly 350,000 teachers under its payroll.

The Saturday Standard has established that the TSC may no longer exclusively perform its functions as employer and regulator, if proposals by the education reforms are adopted.

TSC is established under Article 237 (1) of the Constitution as a constitutional Commission with primary functions being to register, recruit and employ registered teachers.

The Commission is also empowered to assign teachers for service in any public school or institution, promote, transfer teachers, discipline and terminate their employment.

This constitutional role effectively gives the TSC exclusive mandate over teachers with little or no ministry interference.

But in far-reaching proposals seen by Saturday Standard, the ministry will have huge say on TSC operations and fully take over some roles.

It will be a requirement for TSC to consult the ministry during recruitment, deployment and transferring the teachers, in a marked departure from the present practice.

The ministry would also be handed powers to enforce accountability among head teachers and principals who run government schools and the tutors who implement the education curriculum.

And in a move to professionalise teaching, a new body, Kenya Professional Teaching Standards (KePTS), would be created to act as a regulatory body.

These are some of the proposals contained in a draft report of the Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms (PWPER).

Saturday Standard established that these proposals are still under review and will be refined before final report is handed to the president.

If the final report adopts this, the new body to regulate teaching would be created within one year.

Insiders in the task force revealed these proposals were informed by discomfort that ensue in the teaching sector as there is no clear distinction between employer and regulator.

It also emerged that there has been long running disquiet over the present case where the Ministry of Education does not have control of the teachers who run government owned schools and also implement education curriculum.

The bone of contention, it emerged, is that even though the teachers are employees of TSC, they work for the ministry of Education which is expected to supervise and appraise their delivery of the curriculum.

Yet, these teachers are deployed, transferred and promoted without consultation with the ministry of Education.

Sources in the task force revealed that during stakeholder engagements, Kenyans raised many reservations, arguing that the exclusive control of teachers by TSC has bread unruliness among some teachers, especially the heads who are the managers of the schools.

And now, Saturday Standard has established that the education reforms team has made far reaching proposals that may limit TSC powers to human resource functions, some of which it will perform in close consultation with the Ministry.

Draft report reveals that the working party wants headteacher and principals to be answerable to the Ministry and that TSC consult Ministry before making transfers, deployment and promotion of teachers.

The team also wants Ministry of Education to take over the role to retrain teachers and also recommend delinking the regulator role from TSC to professionalise teaching.

TSC may also not have the final say on discipline of teachers as team recommends that appeals on disciplinary matters be handled by the Education Appeals Tribunal.

It these proposals make it to the final report and are adopted by Kenyans, the powers wielded by TSC as an employer and regulator will be immensely trimmed.

Headteachers and principals will by extension be under the control of the ministry; marking a major shift from the previous arrangement where they were solely answerable to the teacher’s employer.

The draft report, finds fault in the exclusive fashion TSC has been handling the recruitment and deployment of teachers by solely deciding on deploying and redeploying teachers to public schools.

Insiders argue that this has impared the Ministry’s capacity to superintend the effective execution of education policy, standards and curricula.

Under the proposed arrangement, the headteachers and principals shall be agents of the Education ministry thus accountable to the ministry as accounting and authorised officers.

Task force members argued that TSC does not have mandate to supervise financial management at the school; thus, creating a caveat in ensuring proper utilisation of funds sent to schools.

The members claim that this arrangement has hindered the ministry’s ability to ensure accountability of funds sent to schools.

“Where there has been a case of mismanagement of funds or resources by a headteacher or principal, the Ministry of Education cannot hold the headteacher to account nor is he/she involved in their discipline,” the draft report reads.

Whereas the power to discipline teachers has been conferred to the TSC, those seeking to appeal the decision of the employer will now proceed to the Education Appeals Tribunal. Currently, TSC handles the appeals through an ad-hoc committee of the commission known as the Teachers Service Review Committee which considers the appeals arising from the disciplinary committee.

“The Act should provide that appeals of the decision of TSC be made at the Education Appeals Tribunal,” the draft report reads.

TSC will also be fully stripped of its quality assurance function if proposals make it to final report.

Under the new arrangement, the team proposes that the directorate of quality assurance be strengthened and be granted power to close institutions that contravene a set of regulations.

The directorate will also have power to establish a system of reward and sanctions; and power to enforce laws, regulations, policies and guidelines.

While the mandate of registering teachers is bestowed on TSC, it may not be the sole keeper of records of the teachers. The draft report seeks to strip TSC off the powers to be the sole keepers of those records and recommendation involvement of the office of the data commissioner, subject to the data protection Act.

Whereas TSC has been the sole negotiator and procurer of teacher’s medical scheme, the forms team wants ministry to be involved.

Another critical role previously bestowed to TSC is the mandate to conduct career progression and professional development programmes.

TSC in 2017 rolled out the Teacher Professional Development modules that heavily came under criticism from the Kenya National Union of Teachers.

In the new proposal, the team now wants the role of retraining teachers be the role of the Ministry.

The ministry will establish a Kenya School of Teacher Education Management (KeSTEM); a corporate body to coordinate and regulate all in-service programmes for Continuous Professional Development for teachers.

This, according task force insiders, will be done within two years.

Previously, TSC required every registered teacher to undertake career progression and professional development programmes.

The career progression guidelines became an integral determinant on the promotion of teachers.

However, the team terms the professional development programme conducted by the TSC as illegal.

“Thus section 35(2) of the TSC Act is unconstitutional on the basis that Article 237 does not mandate Tsc to conduct any capacity building,” the report reads in part.

The report seeks that the ministry takes up the role within two years after adoption of the report.

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