Nairobi City County is the most preferred region by teachers seeking transfers following a move by the government to implement the delocalisation policy, official data from the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) shows.
Nationally, 36,277 teachers applied for transfers between November 1 last year and January 31 this year, according to data submitted by the commission to the Senate Committee on Education. Of these transfer requests, 14,733 were matched and approved while 21,544 are pending.
During the period, 1,885 teachers applied to be transferred to the capital city against 76 who requested to be transferred out of Nairobi.
However, only 41 of the requests out of 1,162 to primary schools and four to secondary schools out of 723 had been approved by the end of January.
During the same period, 45 primary school teachers left the capital while only one secondary school teacher left.
The highest number of primary school teachers (1,336) applied to be transferred to Bungoma County but also 1,074 others want to be transferred out of the county.
The deal to reverse the delocalisation policy is contained in principle in the non-monetary collective bargaining agreement (CBA) teachers unions signed with the TSC. The issue also became a campaign topic with the Kenya Kwanza Alliance promising to abolish it once they took power.
The transfer of teachers who were considered to have “over-stayed” at the same work station started in 2018 and saw thousands of teachers transferred, drawing condemnation by teachers unions, who claimed the policy had disrupted teachers’ lives.
Kajiado County also emerged as one of the most preferred counties after receiving 237 transfer requests for teachers in secondary schools against 94 who requested to be transfer out of the county.
For primary school teachers, 486 applied to work in the county against 434 who asked to be taken elsewhere.
“The transfer of teachers from one institution to another is based on the need for equitable distribution and optimal utilisation of teachers, availability of vacancies in the station, the need for replacement, existing staffing norms and medical grounds certified by a registered medical practitioner,” reads the document signed by Mr Cavin Anyuor, the director for legal, labour and industrial relations, on behalf of CEO Nancy Macharia.
The document was in response to questions on delocalisation by Embu Senator Alexander Mundigi who demanded to know the breakdown of the teachers transferred in and out of Embu County.
TSC data showed1,157 teachers applied to be deployed in the county while 357 others wanted to work elsewhere.
Of these, 229 have already left the county and 244 others brought in. Other requests are pending approval.
Ms Macharia further explained that, before approving a transfer, the commission ensures that the station a teacher is leaving has a suitable replacement and that there is a vacancy in the preferred station.
“This way, the commission is able to ensure equitable distribution of teachers across the country for the benefit of all learners,” she said.
Counties that the TSC classifies as “hard-to-staff” were hit by massive requests to leave with only a few teachers asking to be transferred to the counties.
In Samburu County, 94 secondary school teachers and 246 in primary schools applied to leave the county with only nine (secondary) and 134 (primary) applying for deployment in the county.
In Turkana County,129 secondary school teachers requested to be transferred away against 23 who wished to go to the county and 37 have since left the county and an equal number brought in.
Just like Nairobi, Mombasa County is also a favourite among secondary school teachers, with 340 applying to move there against 55 who asked to be moved out.
“Not all teachers apply to be transferred to their home counties. Some transfer requests are for transfers other than home counties. As an employer, the commission cannot dictate to a teacher to apply to be transferred to a particular county. Similarly, the commission cannot decline a transfer request simply because a teacher hasn’t applied to be taken to his home county,” the document reads.
In replying to the questions raised by Senator Mundigi, Ms Macharia warned against misinterpretation of the reversal of the delocalization policy to mean that “teachers must now not only teach in their home counties but also in their villages”.
She said that counties that have not produced enough teachers would end up being grossly under-staffed while those that have excess teachers would be overstaffed, leading to wastage of resources.
Arid and semi-arid areas as well as the hard-to-staff areas would mostly be the victims.