Is constitutional independence of TSC slowly diminishing?

TSC CEO Dr Nancy Macharia

The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) is one of about ten independent constitutional commissions as stipulated in the Constitution of Kenya 2010.

The import of this independence is that each of these commissions cannot be instructed on how to carry out its functions by anybody or person other than the constitution itself.

Before acquiring this status, the TSC used to receive instructions from several quarters including politicians, religious sponsors of schools, Cabinet Secretaries- especially the one in charge of education, provincial administrators not to mention the successive presidents among others that would contradict with the policies and programmes put in place by the commission.

It would take a strong Chief Executive Officer (CEO) with the unwavering support of the commissioners and the leadership of the country to stave off some of those interferences in order to maintain the commission as a just and fair employer of teachers.

One of such cases was a noble idea through which the Directorate of Education would promote teachers on merit in their performance of their duties that was later misused by the District based inspectors and education officers who promoted their relatives and friends at the expense of the deserving teachers.

Under his arrangement the TSC would honour these promotions-as instructed through the Director of Education and the Chief Inspector of Schools-even when in some cases these teachers were having discipline cases. This system was eventually stopped but the Anti-Corruption Commission.


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On acquiring the ‘independence status’ the TSC was soon tested on its adherence to this constitutional requirement. In 2017 several commissioners of the TSC were openly campaigning for one of presidential candidates.

This was against the letter and spirit of the constitution. Secondly, TSC initiated a policy-dubbed delocalization-through which initially principals and later teachers were deployed to teach outside their home counties to enable them to work objectively without the influence of their kinsmen at their home areas which was similar to the practice in the rest of the public service in which police officers, doctors, provincial administrators, education officers, agricultural officers and university lecturers work in institutions that are far from their home areas.

The much hyped argument by the teachers’ unions, in opposition to this policy, that those transfers were breaking families is not very convincing since the public servants listed above also have families but serve far from their homes.

Unfortunately, the TSC was not totally objective in this exercise since it soon emerged that teachers from certain regions of the country were being ‘delocalized’ and promoted in large numbers unlike those from other regions of the country. This became a major issue the presidential elections leading to its reversal soon after elections, implying that the TSC had succumbed to external pressure hence compromising its independence.

Why didn’t the TSC on its own motion reverse delocalization policy when it realized it was not popular and that as a commission it did not have the ability to sustain it? This way it would have saved face by maintaining its independence. Conversely the TSC could have insisted on retaining delocalization of principals.

National cohesion would be enhanced through the interaction of students, teachers and principals from different parts of the country. Nobody seems to realize that admission of students to far flying national schools is delocalization of the students. Why accept delocalization of students and reject delocalization of their teachers?

It is possibly the employment of new teachers that has stretched the independence of the TSC to the limit. Whereas the recruitment of these teachers at the school and county level is carried out objectively it is the recruitment at the TSC headquarters that has been contentions. Through this arrangement a number of members of the Parliament and senior officials of the ministry have been seen to be distributing employment forms in their constituencies and even taking photographs while doing so.

Not all members of Parliament get access to this privilege. This then raises concerns about equitable treatment of the representatives of the electorate. It is also of concern that an independent commission that is supposed to abide by ideals that the constitution stands for has severally broken them. Whereas the TSC may not be an exception among these commissions in such malpractices it does not change the fact that this is wrong. Is the TSC still indeed an independent commission or it is only so by law? The jury is still out there on this matter.

Mwalimu Andrew Kibet.

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