Why teachers feel punished by TSC, union in new Bill

Some teachers call it a plan to frustrate, lower morale and kill the ailing education system.

In Summary
  • The proposed law bars teachers from engaging in any other gainful employment besides teaching.
  • It would require teachers to have a practising certificate and take mandatory continuous training. Or lose jobs.
Knut chairman Patrick Karinga, secretary general Collins Oyuu and deputy secretary general Hesbon Agola during a press briefing at their offices, Nairobi on February 6, 2024/LEAH MUKANGAI
Knut chairman Patrick Karinga, secretary general Collins Oyuu and deputy secretary general Hesbon Agola during a press briefing at their offices, Nairobi on February 6, 2024/LEAH MUKANGAI

Teachers and unionists are in an uproar after the Teachers Service Commission drafted an amendment to the TSC Act 2012.

Teachers say proposals in the drafted TSC amendment Bill are not in their interest, with unionists terming them punitive.

Among the proposals by the Nancy Macharia-led commission being opposed is one barring teachers from “engaging in other gainful employment while they are employees of the commission”.

In the Bill, TSC seeks to put into law that every teacher would be required to take out a practising certificate and undertake mandatory continuous training.

“A teacher who fails to undertake prescribed continuous professional development programmes or take out a practising certificate…is prohibited from teaching,” the Bill says.

TSC had called for a stakeholders’ engagement forum at the Kenya School of Government on Wednesday February 7, to review the drafted Bill but the Kenya National Union of Teachers declined to attend.

Some teachers said Knut, being a centre player in their affairs, failed to defend their welfare by declining to attend and give its views on the controversial TSC amendment Bill.

On Tuesday last week, Knut secretary general Collins Oyuu, before declining to attend the stakeholders’ forum, said the Bill does not serve the interests of the teachers.

"Teachers have seen the draft and they have been calling. They are on our neck. Officials could not sleep as teachers were calling, questioning what they were seeing," he said.

Paul Kamau faulted Knut, saying failure to attend was no solution.

"If you don't oppose a motion, a bill, doesn't it then mean you are supporting the same? Failing to attend was not the solution. What measures are they intending to take?" he asked.

But in Oyuu's opinion, attending and engaging in the TSC Bill review forum would have shown the union actually agreed with it.

"If we make a mistake of availing ourselves to this sitting tomorrow, we shall have committed suicide. My proposal is we need a special sitting with the Commission to look into the draft," Oyuu said a day before the stakeholders’ meeting.

According to Oyuu, 40 to 50 per cent of the proposals in the Bill are actually punitive to teachers.

Jacob Leftist said Knut's failure to attend the stakeholders' meeting only gave TSC an unrestrained mandate to go ahead with some proposals, which are proving unpopular with teachers.

"Take for instance the proposal that bars teachers from engaging in any gainful employment other than teaching. Unless the meaning of the word employment has been corrupted in favour of the employer, Oyuu should have showed up and asked TSC why a teacher, after completing their day's honest work, cannot run a shop at the corner of the street," he said.

Jacob said Knut ought to have showed up to question why TSC is about to subject teachers to practices that are alien to other public servants in Kenya.

"In the same breath, the unionist should have been present to show support for proposals like empowering the TSC to appoint administrators for JSS," he said.

Mike Mutahi agreed with Knut's move not to attend the stakeholders’ forum.

"Attending the Wednesday engagement with the commission would have ratified an illegality, which should not be encouraged," Mutahi said.

"On close scrutiny of the Bill, several areas have already come out to be ill-intentioned and when allowed to pass will make the teaching profession a hell."

Enock Kosgei said he hopes the TSC amendment Bill does not pass, adding that it was drafted in bad faith for tutors and the entire teaching fraternity.

"Forcing teachers to produce a practicing certificate and having them attend mandatory Teachers Professional Development under the current taxing scenario is just a plan to frustrate, lower morale and kill the ailing education system," Kosgei said.

Tumia Rajab also questioned the mandatory TPD.

"What is it that was not taught well in Teachers Training Colleges or universities that the same people are pushing for it to be injected into the teaching service?" he asked.

In Rajab's opinion, matters are getting out of hand because teacher's affairs and management are handled by people who are not teachers.

"TSC is a scam. A commission that ensures teachers are poorly paid and suffering," another teacher said.

Dennis Nyongesa called for the Bill to be rejected, saying it spells doom for teachers. He also questioned who will pay for the mandatory TPD.

On holiday tuition, which TSC proposed be punitive, Grace Maingi said it is parents who encourage it more than teachers.

"This is because teachers relieve them of the burden of baby-sitting," Maingi said.

Amunga Akhanyalabandu questioned whether comprehensive schools have been scrapped.

"TSC proposes to appoint and deploy administrators in public primary schools, junior schools, senior schools and TTCs. Hii mambo ya comprehensive school nikama imeenda. It has not been mentioned anywhere in the TSC amendment Bill," Akhanyalabandu said.

The TSC has invited members of the public to give their views on the proposed law before it is introduced in Parliament.

Other than KNUT, the Ministry of Education led by Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu was not represented at the stakeholders’ meeting where the draft was reviewed.

Unions like KUPPET, the Kenya Union of Special Needs Education Teachers (KUSNET) and the Kenya Women Teachers Association attended the stakeholders’ forum and gave their opinions.

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