ECDE teachers are pushing for employment by Teachers Service Commission (TSC) which they say will secure their job and better their pay.
The more than 200,000 nursery school teachers have also faulted the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report for failing to incorporate their request to be put under the Teachers Service Commission payroll.
The teachers said they are trained teachers who, under Article 237 of the Kenyan Constitution, should fall under the ambit of the TSC.
The constitution mandates TSC to register-trained teachers and also recruit and employ those registered and assign them for service in any public school or institution.
Through their Early Childhood Development Education (ECDE) association, the teachers said they requested to be moved from counties payroll, saying it was discriminative and unpredictable.
“Counties do not call us teachers. They refer to us in some colonial names such as care givers, ECDE assistants or support staff officers,” said Lawrence Otunga, association national chairman. “We find this demeaning.”
Schedule 4 of the constitution outlines pre-primary and vocational training as functions of the County Governments.
However, the National Government is mandated to develop educational policies, curriculum, maintain standards and national pre-primary education policy, examinations as well as training and capacity building.
The contention has, however, been who is supposed to hire the nursery school teachers in light of the constitutional mandate of TSC.
“We are trained teachers, but counties refer to us in colonial names because if they refer to us as teachers, we shall not fall under them,” said Otunga.
A brief from the Council of Governors’ office, however, said they are mandated to oversee pre-primary education and childcare facilities, including the recruitment of the teachers.
In their presentation to the BBI team, nursery teachers proposed that the employment of all ECDE teachers be transferred to the National Government. They proposed that counties only remain with the infrastructural development role.
The association also proposed that ECDE be declared free and basic to all pre-schoolers as some counties were charging parents for the education. The association equally proposed that the Early Childhood Bill that has stagnated in Senate since 2013 be finalised.
“The Bill addresses many gaps that presently exist in the employment of nursery teachers,” said Otunga.
Over the years, County Governments said that enrolment to ECDE centres have increased gradually from 3.019 million in 2013 to 3.2 million in 2016. The number went up to 3.4 million in 2018 and dropped to 2.8 million last year.
By last year, the ECDE centres stood at 28,383. Teachers employed across all the 47 counties stand at about 52,780, according to the County Governments’ statement. But Otunga said the number was in excess of 200,000, including those in private facilities.