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June 20, 2018

MPs puzzled by Sh7.9 billion budget for TSC cars amid teacher shortage

A teacher protests outside Knut headquarters in Nairobi during their strike in January 2015. /COLLINS KWEYU
A teacher protests outside Knut headquarters in Nairobi during their strike in January 2015. /COLLINS KWEYU

MPs clashed on Wednesday over the supplementary budget allocated to the TSC, saying attention should be paid to the shortage of teachers.

While some hit at the budget committee led by Kimani Ichung'wa (Kikuyu Town) for proposing deductions, others said the allocation to the Teachers Service commission was above what it delivers.

According to the budget committee, the TSC has been allocated over Sh226.9 billion for the 2018/19 financial year, with an additional Sh7.9 billion from the Consolidated Fund for the purchase of new vehicles.

This adds up to Sh234.8 billion, so the budget would hit Sh248.8 billion with the Sh10 billion the lawmakers want for the hiring of teachers.

The committee however proposed a decline from Sh7.9 billion to Sh6.8 billion, with the difference of Sh1.1 billion going to the hiring of lecturers for technical institutions.

This did not go well with MPs who did not understand the allocation of this amount to cars while Kenya suffers the shortage.

Education Committee chairman Julius Melly stood on point of order and told the house that the TSC's total budget was below what it required.

Melly said it was unfair to reduce any amount allocated to the commission as activities must be run smoothly.

"The education sector has a shortage of 104,000 teachers and the TSC was directed to employ at least 22,000 every year to close the gap," he added.

The budget committee did not include funds for hiring the teachers meaning the commission might not be able to do so.

Nominated MP Wilson Sossion said: "Madam chair, we need more teachers. Statistics show we have a deficit of 104,000 and the TSC projection is that this number, which has been approved by the Treasury, might hit 150,000 in the next four years.

"The government has marshaled 100 percent primary to secondary school transition which has seen huge investment that has attracted more learners."

Sossion, who doubles up as KNUT Secretary General said quality education will not be the case without the hiring of more teachers.

The TSC needs at least Sh10 billion to hire 22,000 teachers every year, he said.

"TSC GETS TOO MUCH, DOES TOO LITTLE"

In his argument, Emuhaya MP Omboko Milemba said that with the new curriculum and the 100 percent transition, the shortage will compromise the quality of education.

Milemba said the budget committee should see if it is possible for the commission to be given the Sh10 billion to facilitate the employment of more teachers.

Funyula MP Wilberforce Ojiambo was of the view that it would be a disservice for the commission not to get the money, especially for learners going to secondary school.

"With the chronic teacher shortage we have become unfair to the education sector. If we really want to uplift our children across the country we must invest in teachers by giving them something from the supplementary budget," Ojiambo said.

Wajir South MP Mohamed Sheikh was of the opinion that the commission has been unfair to learners in North Eastern so it deserves what it has been allocated.

Sheikh said the employer gets "enormous allocations yet does very little".

Eldama Ravine MP Moses Lesonet said TSC has been unfair to its employees for many years.

Lesonet said it is unfortunate that some teachers who are 40 years of age or older have never been employed.

"If the commission gets the funds, older teachers or those who graduated before 2015 should be given priority," he said.

His sentiments were echoed by Kipipiri MP Amos Kimunya who said: "We are talking about the Big four and the free day secondary education yet parents are still paying for it. We have a crisis ... we don't have teachers yet we know education is the only enabler of president Uhuru Kenyatta's Big Four agenda."

Kimunya added that if the TCS cannot get Sh10 billion to hire teachers, the rest of its budget is a waste.

"Whether this was deliberately excluded or not is a matter that needs to be addressed," he said.

Related: Inside the Sh3 trillion 2018/19 budget

Also read: Cost of unga, milk, drugs to go up in budget

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