Court halts hiring of 12,000 intern teachers

August 19, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 19 – The High Court has temporarily blocked hiring of 12,000 intern teachers until a case filed by Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) is heard and determined.

Vacation judge Abida Ali-Aroni made the orders on Wednesday after KNUT complained that hiring the interns would violate law on employment of teachers.

The judge has now directed that the case be heard on September 16 by which time the parties involved are required to file all necessary court papers.

“I find that the applicants have an arguable case which warrants the intervention of this court. I hereby direct that the exercise be suspended until the hearing and determination of this case,” Justice Ali-Aroni said.

The hiring exercise was due to kickoff on Friday but KNUT through Secretary General Lawrence Majali said they were never consulted yet they had a stake in teachers’ recruitment forcing them to seek court redress.

Last week the Ministry of Education advertised 10,500 posts of primary school teachers and 1,200 for secondary schools where each constituency was to get 50 teachers for primary and 10 for secondary schools.
The successful applicants will be expected to report to their respective stations by September 7, in readiness for the start of the third term.

They argued, through lawyer Paul Muite, that the Ministry of Education had no legal backing to carry out the recruitment and urged the court to stop the exercise.

Describing the government determination as illegal and demeaning, Mr Muite said the mandate of carrying out the recruitment rested with the TSC. The minister, Mr Muite said, is in violation of the TSC Act.

“The TSC act regulates the manner in which teachers are recruited, their terms of service and disciplinary action. There cannot be another recruitment of teachers other than by the TSC,” the lawyer told vacation judge Justice Abida Ali-Aroni.

The move was informed by a biting shortage of the tutors approximated at 63,000 nationally.

The teachers to be hired will earn Sh10,500 for those in primary schools and Sh14,000 for the degree holders.

The ministry will have the right to deploy the successful teachers to any other constituency should there be need.
Those hired permanently earn nearly double that amount, a fact that Prof Ongeri argued would not create discontent in school staffrooms across the country.

On Tuesday, KNUT urged the High Court to prohibit the ministry from advertising the primary and secondary school teachers’ recruitment, terming it as illegal.

Mr Muite said that the minister was acting contrary to the law and had also gone beyond his powers. The lawyer stated that the minister and his permanent secretary have the legal duty to abide by the law.

The minister’s decision, he said, is irrational as he has failed to consult and take into account the role played by the teacher’s union and the TSC in the recruitment process.

“The mischief by the minister and the permanent secretary is to paralyse the TSC by usurping its mandate to recruit and employ teachers in an orderly, lawful manner. They also want to make the KNUT mandate irrelevant,” Justice Aroni heard.

Mr Majali said in a sworn affidavit that the minister has acted in excess of the powers conferred to him and has acted in bad faith for failing to consult the union as required by law.

Mr Majali had proposed that the new teachers be on permanent and pensionable terms while his Kuppet counterpart, Njeru Kanyamba said that the ministry did not have the mandate to recruit teachers.


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