TSC: Teachers unwilling to apply for promotions in other counties

Teachers Service Commission CEO Nancy Macharia when she appeared before the National Assembly Education Committee on the budget estimates by the MDAs in Nairobi on Monday 15, 2023. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

The teacher's employer has distanced itself from promotions, transfers and recruitment hitches that cloud its human resources functions. Instead, the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) faulted its staff (teachers) for their stagnation and delayed transfers.

TSC Chief Executive Nancy Macharia told MPs on Tuesday that despite the many vacant positions existing at many levels, teachers have failed to turn up and apply for them.

Macharia said despite several appeals by the commission for qualified teachers to apply, they remain vacant.

''On several occasions, we have placed advertisements in mainstream media and on social media for teachers to apply but we are not getting the needed number,'' Dr Macharia said.

She was speaking on Tuesday when she appeared before the National Assembly Education Committee. The TSC boss observed that early this year, the commission advertised 14,738 vacancies for the promotion of teachers to different grades to fill positions arising from exits due to natural attrition.

However, only 11,231 teachers were absorbed with 3,507 posts lacking qualified applicants. Of this, 1,021 vacancies were reserved for teachers on affirmative action. ''The commission re-advertised the 3,507 unfilled vacancies in June 2023. The process of selection is currently ongoing,'' Macharia said.

Mandera South MP Haro Abdul said TSC may have set high standards to intentionally bar teachers from applying. ''Does it mean there were no teachers in the North Eastern who qualified to fill the positions advertised,'' Abdul asked.

Dr Macharia revealed that in the last one year, some 21,071 teachers have been promoted based on common cadre promotions. She accused teachers of not being willing to apply for opportunities in other counties.

''While undertaking teacher promotion, the commission faced the challenge of "promotion based localisation" in that teacher promotion is now based on the number of vacancies in a specific county,'' she stated. ''Teachers are only competing for vacancies in their own counties as they cannot be "transferred" to other counties,'' she told MPs.

Malava MP Malulu Injendi pointed fingers at TSC saying many teachers have stagnated in the same job group even after acting for many years. ''Our teachers are demoralised. At what point are teachers in job Group B5 still acting? Does it mean that the promotion of teachers is skewed?'' Injendi said.

''Give the teachers some hope by advertising more positions for permanent and pensionable positions,'' Injendi said.

But Dr Macharia pointed fingers at the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) saying even with several sittings with them over teachers' promotions, all have fallen on deaf ears. She noted that even during the Junior Secondary School (JSS) transition, TSC mapped and deployed 8,367 qualified primary school teachers to teach in JSS.

''We have sat with the SRC over teachers in an acting capacity and have written several reminders to them but nothing has been forthcoming. I get a lot of pressure from teachers unions and you MPs on teachers' remunerations but my hands are tied there,'' Dr Macharia said.

She however said, a sizable number of teachers beyond the grade of C2, especially deputies and primary school heads did not apply for deployment to JSS since they are already in higher job groups.

The commission also exonerated itself from blame on tutors' delocalisation in different parts of the country, saying the lack of suitable replacements, and vacancies in some counties, especially for school heads enabled the Commission to effect all transfers requested.

Dr Macharia said teachers' transfer is guided by the need for equitable distribution and optimal utilisation of teachers; availability of vacancy in the proposed station; need for replacement; existing staffing norms and medical grounds.

Kabondo Kaspul MP Eve Obara said non-local heads of schools have faced hostilities to trigger their transfers and also equitable distribution and optimal utilisation of teachers are compromised. ''Some teachers are forced out of class when they are not willing to go on delocalisation. We have to give teachers assurance of their safety for those who are not willing to take delocalisation,'' Obara said. The lack of local teachers in arid and semi-arid (Asal) and hard-to-staff areas forced the recruitment of teachers from other regions, which resulted in constant requests for transfers back to their home counties.

The Committee Chairman Julius Melly said despite several attempts by teachers to apply for the positions, they are not granted the opportunity by the employer. ''We have cases where teachers have logged onto your website to apply for the transfer but have not been coming back. Some are not willing to come back but are being harassed by locals to leave their schools. What are you doing to solve these challenges,'' Melly said.

Dr Macharia said by last month, some 46,962 teachers had sent applications for transfer and the commission effected 20,055 transfers of teachers back to their home counties.

Primary school teachers had applied and 17,942 transferred while 10,967 from post-primary of which only 2,113 had been affected. This is due to a lack of suitable replacement as well as suitable replacements.

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