The Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) has rejected the proposed amendments to the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) Act of 2012, arguing that the changes are unfavourable and punitive.
Knut said the TSC did not involve them in the formulation of the Bill.
The union has vowed to boycott a public participation exercise organised by TSC and that was scheduled to take place today at the Kenya School of Government.
Knut Secretary-General Collins Oyuu said 60 percent of the draft Bill is harmful for teachers.
“We have decided not to attend the stakeholders’ forum organised by TSC tomorrow [today] to address the TSC (Amendment) Bill 2024.”
“We won’t let them exploit us. We won’t tolerate being scolded anymore,” said Mr Oyuu told journalists at the union’s headquarters in Nairobi on Tuesday.
Mr Oyuu revealed that Knut had received a letter from TSC on Tuesday last week dated January 29 outlining the proposed amendments to the TSC Act.
He explained that the draft Bill proposes a restructuring of the basic education system, suggesting that it should comprise primary, junior school, senior secondary, and teachers’ training institutions, leaving out early childhood development and education (ECDE).
“The envisioned reforms capture basic education as encompassing PP1 [Pre-Primary One] to Grade Nine and terming them comprehensive schools, then senior secondary. We know that basic education starts from ECDE,” he said.
One notable proposal that Knut has outlined is the TSC’s intention to determine the remuneration of teachers without involving the unions and seeking advice from the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC).
“This violates Article 230 of the Constitution, which emphasises the need for consultation and engagement with relevant stakeholders,” Mr Oyuu said.
The Knut boss added that TSC’s proposal to discipline teachers without being bound by strict rules of evidence, as envisioned by Article 50 of the Constitution on the right to a fair hearing, raises concerns about the potential misuse of disciplinary powers.
Mr Oyuu stressed the importance of due process in safeguarding the rights of educators.
“They are saying they will not follow the rules of evidence,” he lamented. The Knut boss further accused the TSC of lacking a clear stance on the handling of teachers’ pensions, a long-standing issue that affects retiring teachers.
“We anticipated the TSC to establish a dedicated department within its structure for this purpose, allowing teachers to have clear insight into the timing of their benefits,” said Mr Oyuu.
He termed as disheartening the fact that teachers’ retirement benefits would pass through the National Treasury “despite TSC overseeing salary payments throughout a teacher’s career.”
“This omission is particularly troubling given the existence of a Pensions Act governing these matters. The repercussions are severe, with some of our teachers passing away before receiving their pensions,” said My Oyuu.
Moreover, the TSC’s disciplinary procedures have been a subject of criticism, with calls for a more collaborative approach. The draft Bill suggests establishing a Joint TSC-Knut committee to identify cases warranting review.
The proposal to create new staffing norms lacks clarity, Mr Oyuu said, which might reintroduce punitive measures such as de- localisation.
“We all know what de-localisation did to teachers,” said Mr Oyuu. He criticised the commission’s proposition to regulate its own practice and procedure, saying, it contradicts Article 249 (2) of the Constitution.
However, Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers Secretary-General Akello Misori confirmed to Nation that the union will attend the TSC forum.
“This is just a public participation exercise. We’ve discussed the amendments and we’ll tell [TSC] where we disagree with them and where we don’t have any problems. The draft Bill has a lot of weighty issues,” he said, without going into details of the presentation the union will make.