The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) will not proceed with the biometric registration exercise as earlier planned, its CEO Dr. Nancy Macharia confirmed.
While appearing before the parliamentary committee on education the TSC boss Nancy Macharia says the Commission cannot execute the exercise with the current funding.
She said the Commission needs additional budget to be able to carry out some salient exercises among them biometric registration exercise and teacher promotions.
She told MPs allocations for other critical areas like promotion of teachers on competitive selection, roll-out of a national biometric enrolment and validation of teachers and gratuity to 3,358 contract tutors in northern Kenya had not been factored in the budget.
Macharia pleaded with the legislatures for additional funding to cater for biometric registration, teacher promotions among other critical areas.
“The commission would appreciate Parliament’s help for these areas to receive some allocation,” she said.
Though TSC received an additional budget of approximately sh. 15 billion for the next financial year, the Commission proposed to use the monies for employment of new teachers.
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.
However TSC in a report, which was presented to the Committee on Education and Research of the National Assembly by the Parliamentary Budget Office, shows it has planned to use its increased allocation of Sh15 billion exclusively to 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.
The legislatures however approved sh. 2.5 billion additional budget for employment of more teachers. According to TSC proposal it will use the money to employ 5,000 teachers this year.
Macharia had earlier said the Commission will launch countrywide Biometric Enrolment and Validation of Teachers (BEVOT) exercise in March 2022.
She said that the biometric registration is about getting teachers bio data, for instance TSC will know if the teacher has gone back to school to get Teacher Professional Development (TPD) training.
“We shall also know if there is anything about the teacher that we do not know about. For example, in the register we do not know how many children a teacher has and this biometric process will inform us better,” said Macharia.
However with the current examination period, it will also not be possible for the Commission to proceed with the exercise.
This is because teachers are largely involved in overseeing the exams. Teachers are involved in supervision, invigilation and marking of the exams.
TSC already suspended some privileges for teachers like leaves to allow a smooth examination period. The Commission only allowed female teachers to proceed with the maternity leave starting 21st February 2022.
The biometric registration exercise will involve taking a teachers biometric data for purposes of service enhancement.
Already piloting exercise was carried out in 143 selected public schools and colleges. TSC launched the piloting exercise on 17th May 2021 at Nyeri high school.
Ibrahim Mumin who is the TSC Director Administrative Services oversaw the piloting of the enrolment exercise which was conducted in schools during the official working hours between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm.
TSC says the biometric registration will help the Commission to verify teacher distribution and utilization in schools, establish areas of teaching specialization, validate the enrolment in public schools and authenticate teachers bio data and employment records.
During the piloting exercise TSC listed requirements for teachers for the exercise.
Teachers are required to physically avail the following five documents during the exercise;
1) Certificate of registration
2) National ID card
3) Letter of first appointment
4) Letter of last appointment
5) Academic Certificates
The process, which was scheduled for piloting in May 2020 year, was shelved due to the outbreak of Covid-19.
Seven counties were identified for the piloting exercise. The counties where piloting exercise took place are Uasin Gishu, Homa Bay, Bungoma, Nyeri, Kilifi, Kitui and Garissa.
The counties were selected because they present both rural and urban setups, which will give reliable lessons for the national rollout.
The piloting schools were selected to represent different geographical and socio-cultural backgrounds.
“The biometric registration shall entail validation of data of teachers in all public primary and secondary schools, Teacher Training Colleges, Centre for Mathematics, Science and Technology Education in Africa (CEMASTEA) and Kenya Institute of Special Education (KISE),” reads the concept brief.
Only 143 selected schools took part in this piloting stage. The institutions include primary, secondary and teachers training colleges.
TSC CEO Nancy Macharia said the biometric registration will help tackle the issue of exam cheating.
It will entail enlisting teachers fingerprints, which can then allow for forensic and intelligence-led investigations in cases where examination papers are tampered with, and where cell phones and other gadgets are used to commit examination malpractices.
“TSC takes automation a notch higher by launching the biometric enrollment system to ease teacher identification and curb exam malpractices,” she said.
The use of biometric validation will assist in vindicating innocent teachers from being blamed for offences they did not commit.
According to Macharia, the teachers would screenshot examination questions using their cell phones.
“We are at the tail-end of finalizing our consultations with the office of the Data Commissioner on the rollout of the biometric capture of all teachers.
“In the future, all teachers joining the TSC will undergo the biometric enrolment before they enter our payroll.” she said.
Data for teachers in special programmes as well as for curriculum support officers in all zones will also be captured.
TSC will update the existing information on teachers’ bio data and validate the staff requirement in all public schools and teacher training colleges by size and learner enrolment.
“The exercise will also reveal teacher distribution based on subject combinations and will unearth staffing gaps that will inform training needs for various subject areas,” reads the brief.
The implication of the exercise is that the data captured will expose how teachers are spread across the country, a development that will inform rationalisation of the staff.
“We shall ensure optimal utilisation of teachers and also balance areas that we shall feel are not well covered,” TSC Director of Administrative Services Ibrahim Mumin said during last year’s stakeholders meeting.
This means some teachers will be transferred for balanced staffing as electronic registration will expose imbalance in deployment.
The exercise will also nab teachers who miss classes for unapproved reasons, as the commission rolls out a drive to hold its staff accountable through the biometric tool that will give up-to-date attendance data.
During the stakeholders’ meeting, it emerged that TSC plans to get real time clock-in data of teachers who attend classes, and absentee ones tracked and monitored through electronic devices that will be installed in schools.
The commission will also have data for all ageing staff, which shall help in effective planning for their exit.
This also means teachers who faked their retirement age or those who may want to stay longer will be exposed.
Training of the committees, coordinators, supervisors and enumerators on the biometric registration exercise had been done in April last year.
The configuration of the tool kits for the exercise has also been completed and registration user-training manual produced.
A stakeholders’ conference for public participation was also conducted in March last year and attended by teachers’ unions and associations, religious organisations, development partners, officials of the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) and persons with disabilities.
The Council of Governors, National Treasury and Public Service Commission officials also attended the meeting.
“We support this exercise fully and want it concluded well because it shall help TSC to plan better,” former Knut secretary general Wilson Sossion said at the workshop held at Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) last year.
It is worth noting that the registration will unmask ghost staff who may have over the years drawn salaries from the Commission’s payroll.
The findings of the exercise will put to rest a long standing claim that thousands of teachers have irregularly withdrawn salaries from the TSC’s payroll over the years.
A report generated by the Efficiency Monitoring Unit in 2009 found a conflicting number of teachers in documents submitted by the TSC.
Analysis of documents submitted to the unit showed that more than 20,000 teachers could not be accounted for.
At the time, TSC had 227,581 teachers in its November payroll against 207,554 submitted by provincial heads.
The unit was to conduct a survey of declining compliance to declaration of wealth by public officers.
The closest TSC came to smoking out ghost teachers was in 2015 when the employer contracted an insurance broker to administer a medical scheme.
The firm rolled out a biometric listing where teachers’ input their TSC number, national identity card number and mobile phone number.
The plan was to cross-check the data against what was with the TSC, Communications Authority of Kenya and National Registrar of Persons databases to enable three-way matching.