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OPINION: The bad blood between teachers and the TSC runs deeper than we know

By Mwalimu Miruka Ongoro | December 10th 2017

It is now apparent, the Kenyan tutors, led by their unions, will yet draw swords against their employer, the Teachers Service Commision (TSC) if the murmurs and grumbling from them are anything to by.

In the past one week, the education sector has made headlines as Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) engage Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i in exchange of ideas.

Apart from the form one placements for the learners who sat for KCPE in 2017, various directives meant to be implemented soon were read out with a raft of changes.

While some these changes have been lauded by the general public, including the educators themselves, some of the changes have not gone down well with men and women of the chalk. Some of the teachers and union leaders I spoke to, were not happy all. 

"This is yet another attempt to provoke the teachers of this country...we will not watch when our teachers are being handled like criminals or slaves. These are intellectuals..." said Mugwe Macharia Macharia, the Executive Secretary for KNUT, Nairobi branch.

"The issue of certificates of service, renewable after a period of time and certificates of good conduct from DCI are ways of fleeing teachers, even before we can forget our medical allowance, given to brokers, in the name of a medical insurance.

Who will pay for those documents and where will the money go?" he further questioned.

The Nairobi boss also decried the amalgamation of school management boards of primary and secondary schools that share a compound, as well as a single head teacher or principal as a tricky issue, which may lead to inefficiency due to the heavy workload for principals and conflict of interests.

Other matters of interest likely to cause protracted tussle, include the direct purchase of books and other instructional materials by the state, then dispatching to all schools nationwide, a function that has been performed by school heads in the past.

On this issue some teachers, most who are authors are unhappy because, while they write for various publishers, some that are private, they fear that automatically the government will buy books from only the state-owned publishers such as Jomo Kenyatta Foundation and the Kenya Literature Bureau.

This will subsequently deny them royalties for the sale of their works. This eventuality has caused panic, among private publishers too.

As a surprise, the government and TSC have also indicated that headteachers of primary schools must be degree holders, while those of high school must be postgraduates.

Ironically, the same teachers' employer that now requires higher qualification papers from teachers refused to promote some who had gone for higher studies, many years back.

Whether the dust will settle through dialogue or industrial action and court cases as witnessed in the past, it is only a matter of time. Time will tell. Brace yourself for interesting times ahead.

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