The Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) officials at various counties have snubbed the KCSE briefings started by the examiner this week.
The Kenya Naional Examinations Council (Knec) had planned for briefing and sensitization programme for field officers involved in the administration of the 2021 KCPE and KCSE exams.
The Knec briefings for field officers started this week from from Monday 21st February 2022 and is ending today on Friday.
However Kuppet officials distanced themselves from the briefings days after the national offices issued a strike notice over Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) standoff.
Kuppet Secretary-General Akello Misori on February 23 issued a 21-day strike notice after the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) declined to reopen talks on the 2021-2025 Collective Bargain Agreement (CBA)
Misori has vowed to paralyse the national exams should the TSC fail to reopen structured talks and review of the current CBA.
The strike threat also came after Kuppet learned that the Commission has intended to use the sh15 billion additional budget awarded by the Treasury to employ more teachers instead of awarding them a payrise.
The Commission said it will also employ more teachers to handle junior secondary from the Sh15 billion additional budget it received for the 2022 – 2023 financial year.
Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani had allocated an additional Sh14.9 billion to the TSC, whose budget has risen to Sh296.6 billion from Sh281.7 billion in the new financial year.
There were rumours that the TSC would use the additional budget to award teachers a salary increment.
However inn a report, which was presented to the Committee on Education and Research of the National Assembly by the Parliamentary Budget Office, shows TSC has planned to use its increased allocation of Sh15 billion to exclusively employ 13,000 secondary school teachers and 9,000 interns to cope with exits and the expected increase in enrolment when junior secondary is rolled out in January 2023.
Kuppet argue that the economy which was ravaged by the effects of Covid-19 has recovered and there is no reason why teachers salaries shouldn’t be reviewed as agreed in July 2021.
The current economy growth rate of 10.1 percent is the highest ever recorded in one quarter in Kenyas history. It is also the first time Kenya hit a double-digit growth.
“For the first time in eight years of the Presidents term, the Kenya Revenue Authority has exceeded its revenue collection target despite the COVID stress on the economy. The KRA projected a Sh1.52 trillion collection in tax during 2020, but ended up collecting Sh1.67 trillion, which was in excess of their projected intention. In the last eight years, KRA collected Sh10.8 trillion cumulatively in revenue. This means that in just eight years, KRA has collected the equivalent of Kenyas total GDP. It also means that on average KRA collected Sh1.3 trillion every year,” said Kuppet.
Kuppet says that in the last quarter of 2020 government has reviewed the salaries and allowances of employees of the Judicial Service Commission, the Parliamentary Service Commission, and county governments who were already among the highest paid cadres in public service and wonder what’s special with teachers.
Kuppet has threatened to down tools within seven days if the TSC fails to honour its demands.
The union wants TSC to meet its re-negotiation demands of the 2021-2025 CBA.
They are demanding that the Commission increases pay for teachers with higher education qualifications, ultimately improving the quality of education in schools across the country.
“When you go to some schools, there are teachers with more than three Ph.D. qualifications. There are even more senior members with higher qualifications than some education directors and yet their pay continues to be general pay…” KUPPET Secretary General Akello Misori noted.
The union has accused TSC of being an unkind employer, who doesn’t enhance teachers’ capacity nor their contribution to education in the country.
They are also demanding that post-graduate allowance be included in the negotiations, besides basic pay, leave and house allowances, for teachers with higher qualifications.
The union also wants commuter allowance raised from Sh5,000 to Sh8,500 and from Sh16,000 to Sh20,800 for the lowest and highest paid teachers respectively, translating to a rise of between 30 per cent and 70 per cent.
According to Misori, the union wrote to TSC on January 17 demanding the re-opening of the CBA within 21 days.
“All the commission has done is to acknowledge our letter and promise to respond at a later stage after ‘interrogating’ the contents.”
The union had asked for a salary raise of between 30 and 70 per cent for the highest-paid and the lowest-earning teachers.
However the Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha has asked Kuppet officials to withdraw its strike notice.
Prof Magohha said the looming teachers’ strike risks disrupting the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination.
Speaking in Kericho, Magoha argued that strike notice was ill-timed and that Kuppet should not use the candidates as pawns in its wars with the government.
“Though teachers, through the union, have a democratic right to issue a strike notice, it should not use candidates as chess pieces. We plead with Kuppet to withdraw the strike notice,” he said.
Magoha added: “If it wishes, the union can issue a strike notice after the candidates sit their national examination. It will then be fair game for learners.”
Even then, the Education CS maintained that the KCSE examination will go on as scheduled.
The CS, nonetheless, asked the TSC board led by CEO Nancy Macharia to continue engaging the teachers’ union over their demands.