By Augustine Oduor
Kenya: Doubts have been cast over the possibility of recruiting new teachers to replace those on strike.
It emerged Tuesday that there are 60,000 to 100,000 trained teachers not in employment in Kenya today. Of these only over 40,000 are primary school teachers, with slightly over 20,000 being graduates.
Statistics from the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) indicate that the total number of teachers in employment currently stands at 278,000, with some 200,000 in primary schools.
This means that only 78,000 teachers are employed in secondary schools. Yet the replacement seems to target primary school teachers largely represented by the Kenya National Union of Teachers.
TSC Tuesday asked trained but unemployed teachers to register with staffing officers at county and sub-county levels in districts they wish to operate from. In a statement to newsrooms, commission secretary Gabriel Lengoiboni said they wished to establish a comprehensive inventory of all trained but unemployed teachers.
He said these teachers would be considered for employment to replace those on industrial action who will not have reported to work by 8am today. Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (Kessha) and Kenya Primary School Heads Association (Kepsha) said replacing teachers would not be an easy task.
Elimu Yetu Coalition (EYC) also said the government may not get the required numbers to replace teachers currently in service.
“If they want to realise the numbers then they should re-advertise for the positions because not all teachers are happy with the strike,” said EYC national coordinator Janet Ouko Muthoni.
She, however, supported the move to hire teachers and noted that a ‘serious government’ must do anything to ensure education is continued.
Kessha national chairman John Awiti, however, warned TSC against being emotional. “They should just engage teachers. Even if they recruit new teachers, the recruits will sooner or later also go on strike because the issues will be the same,” he said.
A former TSC commissioner said it would only be easy to replace primary school teachers if the government wishes to.
“Recruitment of primary teachers happens at county level. And there are no specific subject combinations required. It is just about numbers and they can get that anytime after the profiling exercise,” said the official who declined to be named as he was not speaking on behalf of TSC.
He further said it would be difficult to raise the needed numbers given the age bracket cited by the teachers’ employer. Lengoiboni said teachers of 45 years and above would be given priority in the exercise that starts this Friday.
“All those who wish to be put in the TSC inventory should register with staffing officers by Friday, July 19, 2013,” he announced.
He said interested teachers should be holders of a minimum of P1 certificate for primary school teachers and a diploma in teacher education for those trained for secondary schools.
Lengoiboni said secondary teachers must have at least two teaching subjects relevant to the curriculum.