KNUT wants teacher disciplinary appeals review committee formed at TSC

TSC CEO Dr Nancy Macharia and KNUT SG Collins Oyuu. Teachers' disciplinary structure might change in the new proposals by KNUT.

Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) wants appeals review committee formed at the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) in order to  review verdicts of teacher cases adjudicated during appeal.

They complained that when teachers appeal some adverse disciplinary decisions, they hoped for a favourable hearing only to meet the same officers who determined their case in the lower committees.

What they propose is the formation of a disciplinary appeals review committee with a different and diversified composition.

“It has come to the attention of all our teachers plus the union that in these appeals, the same people who listened to your case (are the same people to) listen to your appeal. It does not make any difference,” said Oyuu during the signing of an addendum to the 2021-2025 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) at the Kenya School of Government on August 28, 2023.

“… this way, … our teachers (will) feel represented, so that decisions you make as TSC does not remain yours and they continue condemning you alone,” he added.

According to the recommendations of the Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms (PWPER), a teacher who will be aggrieved by the decision of TSC will have room to appeal to the Education Appeals Tribunal as provided for in the Education Appeals Tribunal Bill, which seeks to amend the TSC Act by introducing a new Section 46A to allow for appeal.

Currently, the TSC Act does not make provisions for appeal, with Regulation 151 (1) of the Code Of Regulation for Teachers (CORT) providing that the disciplinary process will be administered at the Commission’s headquarters and at the county level.

Regulation 156 (1) also establishes an ad-hoc committee of the Commission known as the Teachers Service Review Committee, which considers and determines reviews arising from disciplinary processes.

The Education Appeals Tribunal is currently established under Section 93 (1) of the Basic Education Act 2013 and hears appeals to decisions made by County Education Board (CEB), raising concerns that it should hear all administrative issues in the education sector.

If implemented, the restructured tribunal will be composed of Chairperson appointed by the Judicial Service Commission, a representative from the Kenya Private Sector Alliance, Council of Governors (CoG) and faith-based organizations, plus five other persons with a background in law, education and finance, one of whom shall be a person with disability.

The Tribunal will further have a Secretary who shall have a legal background and will establish ad-hoc sub-committees.

Currently, the tribunal is only composed of the chairperson of the National Education Board, the Director-General, TSC Secretary,  a representative of the Education Standards and Quality Assurance Council, a representative of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance,  a representative of the Attorney-General, and the Chief Executive Officer of the National Council for Nomadic Education in Kenya (NACONEK).

Besides the thorny disciplinary matter, KNUT also wants TSC to re-look into the Career Progression Guidelines (CPG) for teachers, which has been largely contested for its perceived bias for school administrators to the disadvantage of classroom teachers who are the majority.

Oyuu also urged TSC to address the issues of teachers in acting administrative positions without commensurate compensation as they are not substantive; reasoning that the best labour practice justifies additional remuneration for additional work.

The union, too, proposed that teachers acting in administrative positions in arid and semi-arid land (ASAL) and hard-to-staff areas must be confirmed within some specified time, which they will agree with the employer.

The previous agreement between the union and TSC was that these groups of teachers were to move along until such a time when they qualify to be confirmed in the positions they are acting in.

Regarding transfer of teachers, Oyuu noted that the swap transfer should be given priority, wondering why it took so much time yet the teachers have agreed to exchange work stations.

The proposals come hot on the heels of the pay deals that were signed by both parties, authoritatively suggesting that the unions want better terms other than money.

By Roy Hezron

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