Senators now want to change laws that block Teachers Service Commission (TSC) from employing teachers on internship terms for long period of time.
When TSC CEO Dr. Nancy Macharia appeared before the Senate National Cohesion Committee, they told her to identify legal issues that need to be addressed to allow for teachers to be employed on contract (internship), arguing that this would allow the commission to employ more teachers with its limited budgetary allocation.
The Senators called for a freeze on teachers’ employment on permanent and pensionable (pnp) terms and suggested that they instead be employed on contract to fix a shortage that the TSC puts at 111,810.
In simple terms the Senators want the Commission to use a small budget to employ many teachers who will serve as interns for many years without adding additional budget to the government which include retirement package and pension.
What Senators don’t know though is that this will at the end have a ripple effect on the education sector.
The demotivated teachers who work in same environment with colleagues who earn better than them will be the cause of all disasters in our primary, JSS and secondary schools.
Primary school intern teachers earn a stipend of ksh. 15,000 per month while those in secondary school which include junior secondary school earn ksh. 20,000 per month.
However Mrs. Macharia said that the commission cannot legally keep teachers on contract for too long and that they would be turned into permanent and pensionable terms after two years.
She also said that the Commission cannot recruit enough teachers because there is no budget set aside for the exercise.
“We’ve never had enough teachers because we don’t have the finances. Give us the budget and we’ll recruit.” Mrs. Macharia said.
Mrs. Macharia told the committee that records of the 36,000 newly recruited teachers are being worked on and that all of them have not yet been entered into the payroll. Only the records of 20,900 teachers have been finalized.
Uasin Gishu Senator Jackson Mandago said that the Employment Act should be amended to clear any legal hurdles to allow for contractual hiring, with clear terms of payment and length of service for such teachers.
‘”We cannot be held hostage by unions. We have children who must be taught and Kenyans who need jobs,” he said.
Tharaka Nithi Senator Mahvenda Gataya said the proposal to hire on contract should be tabled before the Cabinet for approval so that those who serve a specified time are absorbed on permanent terms yearly.
Mrs. Macharia said that the shortage continues to exist despite the commission having recruited 36,000 teachers earlier this year, with 47,329 needed at primary level while secondary schools lack 64,541 teachers.
“To achieve this, the commission requires an annual budgetary allocation of Shl4.8 billion for recruitment of teachers,” she said.
Last week Mrs Macharia revealed that the 20,000 teachers recruited on internship terms in February will have to wait until January 2025 before they are given permanent and pensionable jobs.
TSC plans to recruit 20,000 more teachers on contract in the financial year starting July to shore up junior secondary school (JSS) numbers, but the number will still fall short of what is needed. The recruitment will cost Sh4.7 billion.
Ms Macharia explained that, if the commission changed the terms of employment to permanent and pensionable, it would not have enough resources to recruit more teachers needed in JSS.
However, she added, teachers recruited to replace those leaving through natural attrition would be coming in on permanent and pensionable terms.