More than 50 primary school teachers spent last night outside Tharaka Nithi County Teachers’ Service Commission (TSC) office in Chuka town where they have been camping since May 10 demanding transfers to their home sub-counties.
The teachers from Tharaka North, Tharaka South and Chiakariga sub-counties teach in Embu, Meru and Kitui counties, but they applied to be transferred to their home sub-counties after the abolishment of the delocalisation policy by President William Ruto’s administration.
However, after submitting their transfer letters to the Tharaka Nithi County TSC office, they were told that the only available vacancies are in Igambang’ombe, Maara and Chuka sub-counties.
Speaking to the media on Tuesday morning, the teachers vowed to remain at the county TSC office until they are granted their wish. They held protests at the office, resulting in its closure.
A teacher from Tharaka North sub-county who has been working in Kitui County said there are many schools with as little as four teachers in Tharaka North, Tharaka South and Chiakariga sub-counties and that their bosses are taking their friends there because of hardship allowance.
He said they have reliable information that teachers from other counties have used corruption to be transferred to the hardship areas, disadvantaging those who actually come from there.
“We applied to be transferred to schools near our homes for various reasons and we will not accept to be deployed in other counties,” he said.
Mrs Jane Mwangi, from Tharaka South, who has been teaching in Meru County, said most of the young teachers sought transfers to schools near their homes so that they can reunite with their spouses and build families.
She said most of the teachers’ marriages have broken because with the little pay, they are not able to travel home to meet their spouses often enough.
She added that some of the teachers are transferring from hardship areas and have big loans that they cannot serve if they lose the hardship allowance.
“Someone like me, I am married but I have never enjoyed married life because I have been working away from my spouse,” said Mrs Mwangi.
Mr Mutinda Muriungi, who has been working in Tigania East in Meru County, said the county TSC director had declined to address them and that they would continue camping outside her office until she listens to their cries.
Kenya National Union Teachers (Knut) Tharaka Nithi County chapter executive secretary Njeru Mutani and Tharaka constituency executive secretary Ndia Gwatia joined the teachers on Tuesday morning and insisted that their wishes must be met.
Mr Mutani, who is also Knut’s national trustee, said the teachers have been operating away from their homes for several years and must be taken near home to take care of their families.
“Teachers are paid very little salary and they cannot survive away from their homes where they are compelled to rent houses,” said Mr Mutani.
Mr Gwatia faulted the county TSC office for deploying teachers from other areas in Tharaka South, Tharaka North and Chiakariga sub-counties, disadvantaging those who call those areas home.
“Teachers from other sub-counties and even the neighbouring Meru and Embu counties are requesting to be taken to Tharaka South, Tharaka North and Chiakariga sub-counties because of the hardship allowances, but the locals must be given priority,” said Mr Gwatia.
Mr Gwatia said they have spoken to the county TSC director Rosemary Sokotian, who is away from the office and she had promised to sort out the matter soon.
Efforts to speak to the county deputy TSC director were not successful.