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Windfall for 3,000 acting school heads as TSC announces stipend

Headteachers lend their ears during the Kenya Primary Schools Head Teachers Association[KEPSHA] annual General meeting and conference at Sheikh Zayed Children and Welfare Center in Mombasa. [File, Standard]

More than 3,000 school heads who are in acting capacity will soon have a reason to smile, as the employer plans to provide compensation for their roles amid job stagnation undertones among teachers.

In a presentation to the Education Committee in parliament, the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) indicated that it has finalised negotiations with the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) and is exploring a budget line to pay such teachers a special duty allowance.

The plan will benefit some 3,359 schools running with no leadership as they lack a substantive school head, according to data by the Presidential Working Party on Education reforms.

In primary schools, there are 1,918 schools with no head teacher, while in secondary schools, there are 1,441 schools with no principal.

Apart from the special allowance, acting school heads will also have an upper hand in the ongoing teachers' promotion exercise, with the TSC indicating that they will receive higher marks in the scramble to fill the positions substantively.

While lifting the lid on the promotion crisis, the TSC stated that it lacks qualified teachers to fill leadership roles, leading to the deployment of school heads in acting capacities.

"Teachers are only deployed to act where the commission lacks qualified teachers with the requisite grade and experience for substantive appointment," said TSC Chief Executive Officer Nancy Macharia, who indicated that the registration of new schools has been a major challenge, resulting in a leadership conundrum in schools.

She says the government has been establishing new schools but does not provide a budget for the promotion of teachers to head the new schools, thus the commission is forced to rely on acting administrators.

In November, TSC advertised 36,505 vacancies for promotions after the government provided Sh1 billion. Out of this, some 17,914 posts will go to primary school teachers.

However, Macharia, while speaking in Mombasa during the 2023 Kenya Primary School Headteachers Association annual delegates conference, said the promotion was witnessing a low uptake among teachers.

Macharia said in the past TSC failed to attract enough applicants for promotional positions even after lowering the requirements.

“This is more prevalent in Special Needs Education where we have a serious shortage. I wish to encourage those who have been invited for the interviews from December 4 to ensure they attend,” Macharia said.

The promotion interviews will run from December 4-6. The teachers' employer has been accused of lacking interest in the promotion exercise. 

Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) chairman Omboko Milemba said the career progression guidelines adopted in 2017 are responsible for stagnation.

Milemba faulted the Career Progession Guidelines as being a major stumbling block since teachers have opted not to take part in the promotion exercise.

Collins Oyuu, the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut), says there are some positions TSC has advertised more than twice, especially deputy headteachers and every time they fall short of applicants.

"Today, we have thousands of experienced teachers who became senior teachers by 2017, but who up to now are not qualified to become deputy headteachers and must wait for three years to move to a job group that corresponds with the role of a deputy headteacher," Oyuu told The Standard.

This was similarly observed by the Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms in its report that termed the promotion criteria by TSC as rigid. 

“This has led to a large number of teachers stagnating in their job groups. Many remain in the same grade for years, causing demoralisation and sometimes burnout,” the report reads.

To address this, the report recommended that the Education Ministry harmonises teacher management policies, including the takeover of the career progression guidelines that guide teacher promotions.

This could force the TSC back to the drawing board to look for another mechanism to apply in promotions. 

Macharia in her presentation to the Senate defended the promotion criteria as rigorous and competitive.

"The Commission only posts head teachers and deputies who have undergone a rigorous promotional process," she said.

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