NAIROBI—The death of three teachers earlier this week at Kamuthe Primary School in Fafi sun-County has renewed debate on whether a proposal to lower entry grade to teaching colleges by the former Cabinet Secretary for Education, Amina Mohamed and leaders from the Northeastern region would have saved the lives of the slain teachers.
The proposal was rejected by the CEO of Teachers Service Commission, Dr Nancy Macharia who squashed the directive by the ministry to the teachers training colleges to lower the entry grade for marginalised students willing to join the profession.
The TSC boss argued that implementing the proposal would affect the quality of teachers.
If the proposal was to see the light of the day, students with C plain and C+ seeking to study for diploma in education would have been absorbed. That window would then have created opportunities for local students from northeastern counties of Wajir, Garissa and Mandera and lowered chances of Al Shabab targeting teachers and causing mass transfer to other parts of the country as the norm whenever the militants kill non-local teachers.
Even the giant Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) agreed with the proposal and welcomed it. The Secretary-General of the Union, while condemning the incident in which Al-Shabaab militants killed three non-local teachers at Kamuthe Primary School, blamed the re-occurrence of the incidents on the poor staffing norms by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC).
“The policy that Teachers Service Commission adopted by employing teachers from the rest of the country and deploying them to North Eastern was not the right thing at all,” he said.
“If anything, it goes against the UNESCO teaching-training and deployment policy which states that in any tribe or clan, we must create teachers to teach children from such communities for cultural reasons,” he said.
Sossion said the TSC boss was not earnest about the teacher’s safety.
“Dr Nancy Macharia (TSC boss) and Dr Belio Kipsang (Education PS) approached me and we had a meeting where they asked us to allow them recruit teachers with D plus and they went and kept quiet,” he said.
“It (TSC) failed to provide a solution in 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019. They engage in mere Public Relations and cannot offer a solution,” the Standard quoted him as saying when he appeared on KTN breakfast show on Tuesday.
Sossion said that teachers drawn from other communities have become targets of the terrorists and their networks making it dangerous to deploy them.
He stated: “We must identify boys and girls who have graduated from secondary schools from the communities and they can be registered tomorrow and taken to class. Teachers were deployed wrongly in the region. We will be wrong not to propose solutions.”
In a legislative proposal to amend the Teacher Service Commission Act 2010 mid last year, Wajir East MP, Rashid Amin proposed that a person who obtains a certificate from a training institution including through affirmative action shall be eligible to be registered as a teacher.
“The qualification for admission into training institutions may be varied from time to time by the Cabinet Secretary and shall be lower for persons from marginalised counties in order to afford the persons adequate and equal opportunities for training and advancement,” Amin told a sitting of the National Assembly Committee on Education.
This comes months after North Eastern leaders hit out at the Teachers Service Commission for rejecting to implement a directive by the then Education CS Amina Mohamed who had directed colleges to lower the entry grade for marginalised students willing to join the profession.
In his argument, the Wajir East legislator insisted that a precedent for implementing the programme has already been set in the Basic Education (Amendment) Act which invokes affirmative action in the admission for persons from marginalised regions to public primary and secondary schools.
“But if there is not similar amendments supporting the same in the TSC Act, then he will not be elaborate in providing for the teachers as required in Section 39 (d) (e) of the Basic Education (Amendment) Act.
“The amendments we are proposing today is harmonising, the responsibility, the policy that exists and be able to bring in the issue of minorities, the issue of disabilities and affirmative action and anchor it in education such that at any one time we don’t as Kenyans become activists or feel beggars in our own nation because we feel we will get what is right to us in the law,” Amin emphasised.
Steve Mogaka, who is Amin’s legal adviser, explained further that their amendment has been necessitated by a High Court ruling which outlined that the function of training teachers does not lie with TSC and restricted it to registering teachers.
“As we deal with the quality of education that other Kenyans are getting, there are actually some 17 counties and schools that are doing without teachers and we hope that this Committee will do drastic action to avail teachers. We look to this Committee to try and customize the teacher availability to mobile parents and children; this amendment seeks to provide teachers who are able to move along with the parents and students to supply education where their next destination will be. That will assist in customizing teaching as a fundamental right for our fellow compatriots who must move as compared to us who are stationary,” he stated.
Amin’s legal advisor was referring to a consent signed before High Court Judge on April last year before Justice Weldon Korir, the Teachers Service Commission (TSC), Education Ministry and others, the Cabinet Secretary was forced to withdraw the directive.
Others that signed the directive are: the Kenya National Qualifications Authority (KNQA) and the Attorney-General.
The former Education CS believed that candidates who score D+ should consider teaching courses so as to help those who do not benefit from an equitable environment of learning.
The CS cited this would help areas of Semi-Arid Land (ASAL) and North Eastern parts of the Country, which are desperately in need of teachers.
She had insisted that most of the teachers posted in these areas flee due to terror attacks, bandit raids and cattle rustling adding that the solution would be hiring local residents until the situation is normalized.