Trainee teachers rejected for low grades seek court’s help

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When one is admitted to college, he or she hopes to complete the selected course and hopefully get a job soon after graduating.

But for hundreds of students admitted to teacher training colleges (TTCs) recently, the dream of a career in teaching seems to have hit a dead end after they were sent home for having grades which are now considered lower than the minimum entry requirement to train as a primary school teacher.

They now say the turn of events is an injustice of great proportions.

After being admitted to college and learning for a few months, they have been unceremoniously sent home.

That is why the 3,265 trainee teachers who were admitted to various colleges in Kenya following a directive in October 2018 by then Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed have taken the government to court.

Through the directive, Ms Mohamed allowed students from hardship areas who scored a D+ in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams to join teacher training colleges to train as primary school teachers.

She said the lower grades would apply to D+ students from the counties of Turkana, Samburu, Wajir, Marsabit, Isiolo, Mandera, Garissa, Lamu, Tana River, West Pokot, Kwale, Kilifi and Taita Taveta who sat KCSE from 2006 onwards.

In four other counties — Homa Bay, Narok, Baringo and Kajiado — Ms Mohamed listed sub-counties that are also hardship areas whose D+ students could also be admitted to TTCs.

“Kindly ensure that the students from the above counties who have shown interest in training as teachers and who meet the new criteria are admitted to teacher training colleges from this year (2018),” said Ms Mohamed’s letter to the chief executive officer of the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Services.

As a result of her directive, the 3,265 students were admitted to various colleges.

But as they were gearing to return to their institutions after their April holiday, a new directive came from Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang that slammed brakes on their dreams of becoming teachers.

Dr Kipsang issued a circular to principals of teacher training colleges explaining that because a case filed by the Teachers’ Service Commission (TSC) over the admission requirement had been resolved through consent, the D+ students would no longer be allowed in colleges.

Dr Kipsang told regional education directors to liaise with the college principals “for placement of affected students who may wish to transfer to technical training institutes”.

The decision to discontinue the learning of the D+ students has made Mr Abdishukri Adan Muhume, a resident of northern Kenya to sue all the 27 TTCs, the Education ministry and the Attorney-General on behalf of the more than 3,000 affected learners.

Mr Muhumed argues that the discontinuation is unfair to the trainees.

“Without any colour of right nor following due process, the respondents informally informed or caused to be informally informed the teacher trainees that their training has been discontinued,” says Mr Muhumed in a case filed through Nairobi-based lawyer Stephen Mogaka.

“The decision, threat and/or announcement of the said discontinuance of the commenced teacher training is arbitrary, capricious and untenable,” he adds.

“The arid and semi-arid region suffers acute shortage of teachers which impedes children’s access to and realisation of their fundamental right to education,” argued Mr Muhumed in the court documents.

“The action to discontinue the training [for] the teachers violated Article 47 of the Constitution and Sections 4, 5 and 6 of the Fair Administrative Action Act,” he added.

Mr Muhumed’s case was placed before High Court Judge James Makau on April 30.

The judge certified the case urgent but turned down Mr Muhumed’s request to issue an interim order to re-admit the D+ students until he hears the response of the sued parties.

Justice Makau ordered that the sued parties be served by a newspaper advertisement, which ran on Friday last week.

A hearing has been slated for May 14.

Amid the uncertain times for the learners, the TSC made an announcement through local dailies that the minimum KCSE grade for training as a primary school teacher is a C.

TCS CEO Nancy Macharia added that those wishing to train in early childhood development education must have a D+ and above, those joining diploma colleges must have a C+ and those going for a bachelor’s degree must attain at least a C+.

“For one to be registered, one will be required to have met the minimum entry grades to teacher training institutions,” said Mrs Macharia.

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