The Ministry of Education is pushing for changes in the Basic Education Act which will give it powers to hire school managers in all public learning institutions.
According to the Ministry of Education officials school managers will help head teachers run schools more efficiently.
The Ministry proposal is a major change to the law that may see it snatch the role of managing public schools from head teachers.
Under the proposed amendment, the school manager will be appointed by the Cabinet Secretary to oversee the management of education resources, meaning that a big chunk of the head teachers’ roles will be taken away.
The school manager will also be in charge of implementation of policies and guidelines in the basic education institutions.
The ministry wants the Basic Education Act amended to redefine a ‘manager’ in far reaching changes that may effectively see it hire a new set of persons to manage schools.
The move is likely to spark a fresh storm between the ministry and the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) if the proposed managers take over supervision of schools.
A head teacher, also called principal, headmaster or headmistress, is a teacher who is in charge of a school.
They are responsible for managing the school and making sure everything is running smoothly on a day-to-day basis.
However teachers unions have opposed the plan. The Kenya Union of Post-Primary Teachers (Kuppet) was the first to oppose plans by the Education ministry to hire school managers directly.
Kuppet claims that the move is a plot by the Ministry of Education to illegally grab the human resource management role from the Teachers Service Commission (TSC).
“Parallel employment of school managers would rewind the clock on teacher management to the days TSC was constitutionally mandated to manage the teaching force,” said Kuppet secretary- general Akello Misori.
“During that period, chaos reigned in schools, affecting the provision of education services,” said Misori.
The union noted that aside from the move being an extra burden to taxpayers, it will be unfair to head teachers since they have undergone various courses including financial training, prior to taking up the roles.
“To help schools run better, the government should establish a policy for them to hire specialised professionals such as accountants, sports coaches and psychologists, subject to schools’ capacity to pay,” said Mr Misori.
The union is also opposing the abolition of the National Education Board (NEB) which is currently mandated under law to advise the Cabinet Secretary on education policy matters.
It notes that this will leave decision making at the discretion of the Cabinet Secretary, locking out the input of independent voices in influencing policy in the Education sector.
Kuppet wants Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha to halt the proposals before they are made law.
The ministry is said to be unhappy since it lacks control of the over 30,000 school heads in public schools, which receive billions of capitation cash annually from the government.
Sources at Jogoo House said the ministry is also uncomfortable with not being in charge of teachers who manage infrastructure and are in charge of the safety of children in school.
In the proposal, a manager will mean ‘a person who has been appointed by the Cabinet secretary to oversee management of education resources and implementation of policies and guidelines in basic education institutions.’
Under the Act, a manager is presently defined as ‘a person who has been appointed by the Cabinet secretary in consultation with the proprietor through regulations to coordinate and oversee implementation of education policies and guidelines in non-public basic education institutions and performs delegated teacher management functions.’
The proposed definition, however, means the ministry is pushing to hire new people to manage schools, as the definition of a principal remains unchanged.
The Amendment Bill (2020) is awaiting debate in the National Assembly with reports indicating a major education stakeholders meeting will be called next week to discuss the matter.
If passed, the law will take away management powers from school heads. This means the ministry will recruit new staff to oversee the huge monetary resources under the custody of schools, including infrastructure and management of learners.
The interpretation is pegged on the fact that there’s no proposed change to the definition of a ‘principal’ as is presently stated in the Act.
Under the Act, a principal has the meaning assigned to it under the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) Act.
This means secondary school heads will still be hired, promoted and disciplined by TSC.
TSC maintains that it is mandated in law to hire and manage all teachers under government payroll.
Kuppet said school heads should continue to run their institutions under the current employment and reporting frameworks.
When he appeared before the National Assembly Education Committee, CS George Magoha hinted at a plan to take charge of schools and teachers.
Magoha asked MPs to re-look into the present law that does not empower his office to be in charge of teachers.
He told MPs that in the entire region, he is the only one running an education ministry that does not have control over teachers.
“We are the only ministry in the region that is not in charge of teachers. We are the only sector head that is not in charge of teachers.” Magoha said
“It is about time you think about it because everybody thinks I am in charge of teachers. I have left the wisdom to you.”