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Intern teachers' long wait for permanent jobs, as union opposes contracts plan

 A section of Junior Secondary School intern teachers protested along the streets of Bomet. The teachers want the Teachers Service Commission to employ them on permanent terms. [Gilbert Kimutai, Standard]

Intern teachers contracted for a year will now be required to serve a second year before they are confirmed as permanent and pensionable employees.

President William Ruto announced the extended internship duration last week, assuring Junior Secondary School (JSS) teachers of eventual permanent employment.

He however said the will only happen after their two-year internship.

Ruto's statement, made during a media round-table at State House, drew both praise and criticism, with concerns over morale of teachers and potential delays in securing stable jobs.

"The JSS intern teachers will be at work in January," Ruto said adding; "We had promised that before being employed on permanent and pensionable terms, they must do an internship for two years."

The two-year internship policy is part of a broader government initiative promoting internships across various sectors. 

He pointed out that the Public Service Commission recently welcomed a new cohort of interns, underscoring the value of internships in the learning and job processes.

“We will hire everybody so they need to relax. Let them go through the process and will have the first priority when we hire teachers after the internship. We are not only doing internship with teachers but also in many other sectors,” said Ruto, in a televised interview on Sunday night.

This announcement follows earlier statements by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) in November, formalizing the two-year service requirement for JSS interns. 

The commission's Director of Teachers Staffing, Antonina Lentoijoni, explained that after two years, the contracts of the about 46,000 JSS interns would automatically convert to permanent and pensionable (PNP) status.

Some 21,365 interns were engaged as junior school interns and have been raising concern over the extension of their contracts in their current form.

The decision to extend the intern contracts has met resistance from the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers with secretary-general Akelo Misori criticizing the extended internship period. He argued that it could demotivate teachers already facing challenging working conditions and low salaries. 

Under the internships, secondary school teachers on contract are paid Sh20,000 per month, while primary school counterparts get Sh15,000.

Misori emphasized that the initial contracts specified only a one-year internship.

"Whereas the teachers' employment contract clearly stipulates that they were to serve as interns for only one year, TSC has not taken the necessary steps to employ them on a permanent basis from January 2024 when their current contract expires," Misori said. 

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