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Stop the double standards; give teachers their July pay

UREPORT
By By Seth Mwangani | July 30th 2013

By Seth Mwangani

The threats being made by the Cabinet Secretary for Education, Jacob Kaimenyi, and the chairperson of the Salary and Remuneration Commission (SRC) to withhold teachers’ July pay are not only uncalled for but could once again destabilise normal learning in public schools.

The ‘productivity’ argument being advanced by SRC clearly shows the Sarah Serem-led commission is either over-stepping its mandate or does not understand its area of jurisdiction. Article 230 4(a) of the Constitution is very clear on the mandate given to SRC, which is to set and regularly review the remuneration and benefits of State officers.

This mandate does not include supervisory powers on the performance of the officers. Such roles fall under specific employers. In this case, TSC is the only body that is empowered to monitor teachers’ performance.

In any case, teachers’ productivity can only be assessed either from the students’ performance in continuous assessment tests or national examinations at the end of the year, which has not been done since schools reopened. Notably, the government has extended the school calender by two weeks and it is expected that all public schools will complete their syllabus, which is another productivity tool in education.

When MPs recently made threats to shoot down budget estimates and demanded the disbandment of SRC, the commission surrendered to demands for increased salaries for both MPs and the county representative.

During that period, some of the MPs skipped parliamentary sittings to go and agitate for their demands at funerals and public gatherings while county representatives declared a go-slow until their demands were met.

SRC should tell the public which productivity tool the commission applied to give MPs and county representatives their new pay, yet it was clear that some of them were not attending sessions. Surprisingly, they were given more than they bargained for, against the wishes of many Kenyans.

The way the government has handled the teachers’ strike clearly explains the widening poverty gap and the social inequalities in the country. It amounts to a selective application of the law against the tenets of the Bill of Rights, which the government solemnly swore to protect.

Teachers, like any other State officers, should be treated with a lot decorum since their roles are equally important. They should not be seen as providing lesser services.


 

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