State has abandoned teachers in their hour of distress – Sossion

Failure by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to implement the 2017/2021 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) in its entirety has exposed a reality that Kenyan teachers have long confronted – the government has failed to enforce the labour laws.

Going by what 376,774 teachers in Public schools are exposed to, it is now clear that we have very weak systems of labour protection, of which some individuals have taken advantage to trample on teachers’ professional and labour rights with the sole aim of incapacitating Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut).

Teachers are the key to achieving the Education 2030 agenda, so this target is critical and it requires urgent attention.

Poor remuneration, hostile work environment, lack of proper supply of teaching tools and failure by the employer to implement the CBA, if not addressed, could impact the delivery of quality education to more than 16 million learners.

It is instructive to note that the primary function of a trade union is to promote and protect the interests of its members – improve working and living conditions and to represent workers’ interests.

Knut has, however, fallen short of achieving its set objectives due to strangulation by the employer.

The employer has taken wrong decisions on teachers and introduced new policies without the involvement of the Union, contrary to Statutory Instruments Act (2013).

Part II, read together with Section 8 (1) of the Act, provides that it is mandatory for the regulation-making authority to make consultations with persons who are likely to be affected before making statutory instruments like Teacher Professional Development, Career Progression Guidelines, and the Code of Regulations for Teachers.

The teachers’ employer has contravened this important law, and gone ahead to craft policies and developed instruments in the teaching profession without due consultation with teachers’ unions.

The anticipated smooth implementation of Competency-Based Education (CBE) could face obstacles if teachers are cast aside in the development of Basic Education policies, and the ongoing review of pedagogies in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic. Teachers have a right to be at the centre of both processes.

The rollout of CBE could also face headwinds if the government does not take notice of Knut’s appeal for the government to hire more teachers to address the perennial teacher shortage, which stands north of 100,000.

Against this figure, schools have engaged 80,000 Board of Management teachers, who are poorly paid, and majority of whom are not well trained.

 -Wilson Sossion is a nominated MP and Secretary-General of Knut     

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