Teachers’ association rejects proposal to strip off TSC powers

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Kenya Teachers in Hardship and Arid Areas Welfare Association (KETHAWA) has rejected proposals by the Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms (PWPER) to transfer some powers from the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to the Ministry of Education.

Speaking to Education News , the association’s National Secretary Wangonya Wangenye noted that anything to do with a teacher should be handled by TSC and that amendments regarding the same should be done according to the right mechanism outlined in the Constitution since TSC is an independent Commission in the Constitution.

The working party, which is set to prepare its final report ahead of the June 9, 2023 deadline, has proposed that TSC should only be left with the powers of hiring, promoting and deploying teachers, the same way the Public Service Commission (PSC) operates.

On the other hand, the Ministry of Education should take on the management of teachers, recommending further that Article 237 (1) of the Constitution be changed to factor in the proposals.

Wangenye noted that as teachers, they will not accept any move that takes away the Commission’s powers, adding further that since the Ministry is only concerned with what goes on in schools, it is now targeting to take charge of teacher management powers, a situation that will render irrelevant all the gains TSC has seen since its inception in 1967.

“We vehemently and unequivocally oppose any move on proposals by PWPER to strip off powers of TSC. The Commission was formed 56 years ago as a result of the suffering teachers had gone through due to fragmented employing agencies which compromised on the quality, standards and uniformity in terms and conditions of the teaching services,” he added

Wangenye stated that the taskforce should jog its memory and be conversant with the fact that teachers rejected the 2005 constitutional referendum because it proposed the scrapping off TSC.

He added that in 2010 the teachers embraced the referendum after the commission was made independent as per article 237 of the Constitution of Kenya.

“We cannot go back on the gains made so far at the commission for over half a century by reverting some of duties of the commission to the Ministry of Education. The ministry already has its tray full. So far school infrastructure are in pathetic condition and students’ capitation is yet to hit schools’ bank accounts. If they have been unable to sort out the core mandate assigned to them by law how then can we entrust them with additional duties and tasks of handling teachers’ issues? Let the ministry keep off teachers affairs,” stated Wangenye.

According to Wangenye, the taskforce terms of reference was to review education curriculum on Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) versus the 8-4-4 and that at no one time were they to touch on operations of TSC.

“They are overstepping their mandate. They should wind up their assignment without interfering with teachers. Teachers do not require a task force to address their grievances since they have their representatives and channels where they can air their grievances,” said Wangenye.

The rivalry between MOE and TSC  started in 2012 when the then TSC Secretary and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Gabriel Lengoiboni revoked the MoE contacts that enabled the then Provincial Directors of Education (PDEs)  and District Education Officers (DEOs), who were then under the ministry, to manage teachers.

In regard to the teacher management functions as per the TSC Act (Cap 212) and legal Notice No 95 of 171, TSC had stripped off all the PDEs and DEOs their powers to manage teachers’ affairs in a radical move to entrench itself as a constitutional commission.

The commission then created County Directors of Education (CDE) structures that effectively replaced the old order, rendering the once powerful ministry staff irrelevant.

In 2020, while appearing before the National Assembly Committee on Education, the then Education CS the late Prof. George Magoha told MPs to re-look into the present law that does not empower his office to be in charge of teachers.

Prof. Magoha told MPs that he is running the only ministry that does not have control over teachers, after it emerged that his office lacks powers to hold head of institutions accountable for financial impropriety.

Apart from hiring of teachers, TSC is currently empowered to assign teachers for service in any public school or institution, promote and transfer teachers, discipline and terminate their employment. These mandates give it sweeping powers, all of which are enshrined in the Constitution.

By Roy Hezron

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