Tensions Rise as TSC Rejects Key Education Reform Proposals
The Raphael Munavu team’s proposed education reforms are in jeopardy as a result of the Teachers Service Commission’s severe rebuke of a number of its recommendations.
The TSC has accused the Presidential Working Group on Education Reforms (PWPER) in a brief to the Parliamentary Departmental Committee on Education of attempting to emasculate it by depriving it of its supervisory and managerial responsibilities over its employees.
In a paper presented to the MPs in Mombasa at the beginning of the week, TSC Chief Executive Nancy Macharia accused the reforms team of neglecting to consult with the commission on teacher management issues prior to drafting its final report, as directed by the State House.
Dr. Macharia reported that although various significant stakeholders were extended invitations to the report validation meeting, the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) was notably not included.
He expressed concern that the team overseeing the matter did not take into account the commission’s input on vital issues related to teachers.
Furthermore, he noted that the team did not visit the TSC as part of its visits to various institutions and also omitted the commission from the list of organizations that provided their memoranda.
Dr. Macharia stated that, if implemented as written, the report would divest the commission of its constitutional mandate, revoke its independence, and necessitate amendments to the constitution through a citizen initiative.
The commission identifies a recommendation that gives the Education Ministry the authority to develop guidelines for a mandatory one-year curriculum upgrading program for all teachers who graduated before 2023 as an error because it disregards the commission’s ongoing teacher training upgrades.
It also restricts employment opportunities for teachers and modifies the Code of Regulation for Teachers’ registration requirements.
The TSC is also dissatisfied with a recommendation that gives the ministry the exclusive authority to review entry grades for pre-service teaching programs, arguing that giving this authority to Jogoo House would constitute an infringement on the commission’s constitutional authority.
The reforms team proposed new entry grades for teachers in various categories, but the commission argues that the proposals are incompatible with the TSC’s current registration requirements and pose a threat to the subject-cluster approach.
Another problematic submission by the reforms team is that which mandates the ministry to establish a comprehensive school system where every level of learning from pre-primary 1 to grade 9 is administered as one institution.
This, according to the TSC, would extend the commission’s authority to include the management of pre-primary education, which is currently the responsibility of the counties, increase the number of headteachers, necessitate a review of the career progression guidelines, and result in increased expenditures and a larger budget allocation for the commission.
However, the TSC says it is willing to accept the change because it has the necessary institutional capacity, but only if county governments expressly consent to transferring the management of their pre-primary teachers to it.
According to TSC, lawmakers would also need to construct a permissive legal framework for the establishment of comprehensive schools.
The reform team also instructed the TSC to offer mandatory one-year internship programs to all education graduates upon completion of pre-service training.
However, according to the commission, this would disrupt its current internship policy, necessitate additional funding to engage all graduates, and necessitate a change in registration requirements.
According to the PWPER, TSC should now consult with the ministry to harmonize teacher management guidelines regarding deployment, promotions, and welfare.
However, the TSC rejects it, saying strategies for teacher administration are its own exclusive preserve.
According to TSC, a proposal to involve another entity in sharing this responsibility seems to be an encroachment upon the commission’s authority and its operational autonomy.
TSC observes that such a move might diminish the significance of the current policies, introduce uncertainty, and potentially lead to conflicts within institutional management.
In response to a suggestion that the ministry abandon the categorization of schools into National, Extra-County, County, and Sub-County in favor of career trajectories, TSC asserts that this would necessitate a re-distribution of teachers based on their competencies and a demand for more teachers in new learning areas.
The commission also disagrees with a recommendation that university senates continue to set the admission requirements for the B. Ed. degree, arguing that doing so could lead to a lack of standardization of grades for the teaching degree.
The reform team’s decree that quality assurance and standards should be the sole responsibility of the ministry and that the commission’s mandate should be limited to the teacher as a professional and employee within the context of performance evaluation is another recommendation that the TSC considers controversial.
The TSC expressed concern that this could have negative consequences on the commission’s role as a regulator of the teaching service and as an employer.
Furthermore, it could undermine its responsibility to promote, reward, mentor, coach, and discipline its staff.
The TSC stressed that removing the task of monitoring teachers from the commission could compromise the quality of teaching.
By declaring that the TSC has no role in schools and that it must obtain permission from the ministry before interacting with any teacher, the reforms team was requesting that Jogoo House directly supervise and control the commission, which would have to relinquish control over its own employees in terms of supervision and professional development.
Some of the PWPER’s proposed recommendations require constitutional amendments through a popular initiative and statute law.
According to Dr. Macharia, the commission has determined that retaining these clauses will not only impact the TSC’s mandate, but will also hinder the efficient management of the teaching service.
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Tensions Rise as TSC Rejects Key Education Reform Proposals