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New Bill for Kenya's teachers out

April 21
02:34 2012
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Teachers Service Commission’s plans to overhaul rules for its engagement with teachers, including fresh registration of all educators by TSC, are now in form of a Draft Bill headed for Parliament.

Knut Secretary General David Okuta.

The draft — Teachers Service Commission Bill (2012) — sets minimum learning standards to be adhered to by all teachers if they are to remain on TSC payroll.

The Bill is the product of TSC Draft Bill (2011), which initially recommended that all teachers be given a practicing licence before they are allowed to enter class. This particular recommendation, which in the first report compiled by Kenya Law Reform Commission, Transparency International, and TSC, has been left out in the Draft Bill that would drastically change the teaching profession if adopted by Parliament.
The Draft Bill has now includes teachers’ unions in the negotiations regarding salaries unlike the 2011draft which lacked an express clause on salary negotiations, teacher vetting committees and education boards.

At the same time it emerged TSC is requesting the Treasury to allocate it Sh14.5 billion for one off-employment of 40,000 teachers in the country. TSC Secretary Mr Gabriel Lengoiboni pointed out this recruitment would cut the staff shortage in schools by half. The ideal situation would have been to recruit 80,000 new teachers.

According to the TSC boss the remaining 40,000 could be hired in phases, a move that would end the current shortage attributed to popularity of free learning which widened the teacher-pupil ratio.

Radical reforms

The new measures outlined in the new draft will force all teachers to register afresh with TSC soon after Parliament adopts the laws in the coming session.

The radical reforms proposed in the Bill are expected to enable students get quality education as a right in line with the Constitution.

The Bill gives the commission powers to take steps to ensure anybody in the teaching service complies with the teaching standards prescribed under the Act. First, all registered teachers will be required to undertake career progression and professional development programmes that will be prescribed by new regulations.

According to the proposed Bill a teacher who fails to undertake a prescribed career and professional development programmes would be struck off the roll of the teaching fraternity if the Bill becomes law.

Cabinet approval

A top-level meeting of officials from the Education ministry and TSC met last week under the chairmanship of new Education Minister Mutula Kilonzo and adopted the new amendments.

Consequently Mutula has forwarded the proposed Bill to the Cabinet Office and is expected to be tabled before the Cabinet Thursday this week before it goes to parliament for debate when it reconvenes next week.

Mutula confirmed the meeting took place and resolved to have the Bill forwarded to Cabinet for approval before being brought to the House for debate.

“This Bill creates the linkage between TSC and the national government as well as setting out the operations at the county level,” he explained.

Mutula further described it as a “fundamental law” to teachers noting that it guarantees the welfare, recruitment as well as training for all those who teach. “We are now talking real reforms because we are addressing the welfare of the children of Kenya by ensuring that quality education will no longer be taken for granted as it must be guaranteed as a right the moment this Bill becomes law,” he added.

The minister said the proposed new law will also be setting the standards in the teaching profession as school children would be assured of quality education from professionals who are well trained.

The quest to check teaching standards in the profession started in earlier drafts of TSC Bill with recommendations to license teachers. The proposal then renewal of teaching license after every five years, with those caught teaching without the document facing Sh200,000 penalty or six-month jail-term.

That meant one could not be employed as a teacher in any recognised educational institution without a license and where a license is not renewed, the holder should not engage in teaching.

The move was meant to keep away quacks that undermine standards but the radical proposal to change management of teachers has been discarded.

Lengoiboni said he was happy with the progress made so far on the Bill and hailed Mutula for pushing the proposed law for enactment in the House.

The teachers have been given leeway to enter into agreements with any institution, body, department or agency of the government that will enhance their career progression.

Bargaining power

However teachers also have something to smile about because according to the Bill they will maintain their bargaining power with TSC on matters to do with their salaries through their unions.

As opposed to State officers whose salaries will be fixed by the newly created Salaries and Remuneration Commission, teachers have retained their bargaining power with TSC, which will continue negotiating their pay with teachers unions.

There had been concerns that with the enactment of the Constitution all teachers would fall under the State officers bracket and therefore have their pay fixed by SRC, a move that was strongly resisted by Kenya National Union of Teachers.

Happy Knut

According to the draft the newly established TSC will have a remuneration committee, which will be responsible for matters to do with teachers, although salaries for the commissioners will be set by SRC.

Sources within TSC told The standard the Bill had been ready since July last year but was lying with Ministry of Education officials.

Knut has always insisted that 20,000 teachers be employed per year in order to meet the growing number of school children as a result of free learning and ease the burden on teaching staff.

Knut Chairman Mr Wilson Sosion revealed the union was happy with progress so far on the Bill and hailed Mutula for pushing for the progression of teachers.

Sosion expressed hope the Bill would move to the next step, which is enactment by Parliament, arguing this, would be a major milestone for teachers.

By Martin Mutua and Augustine Oduor, The Standard

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