Teachers must sign contracts, PM directs

July 18, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, July 18 – The government on Friday remained adamant that teachers would have to sign performance contracts despite a spirited resistance from the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT).

While presiding over the signing of this year’s performance contracts for ministries, Prime Minister Raila Odinga assured the teachers that the agreements were only meant to set targets that would ensure efficiency in the education sector, and not to replace their current employment contracts.

Odinga asserted: “These tools are used to link emoluments to measurable performance. The strategy is expanding to cover all the arms of the government and it is not the intention of the government to apply the system selectively.”

KNUT had opposed the new system and called for dialogue but their demands were dismissed by the Education Ministry and the Teachers’ Service Commission (TSC). The union has vowed to rally teachers countrywide to oppose the implementation of the contracts.

TSC has, on the other hand, warned that those who do not append their signatures would be sacked.

The government has maintained that it would not use the contracts against the teachers but would only set targets expected of each teacher in a given specific period.

TSC has also clarified that all contracts would not be the same but would take into consideration factors such as physical facilities, number of teachers and the calibre of students in a particular school.

KNUT had voiced their reservations on the basis that their employment, which is under TSC, is independent of the Public Service Commission, which, in principle, is the employer of all civil servants.

The teachers have continued to push the government over poor remuneration and under staffing, which KNUT argues, has resulted in the poor quality of education in public schools.

The union is also pushing the government to harmonise teachers’ salaries with those of other civil servants. The Education Ministry has already set up a committee to work on the modalities of this.
The Ministry has nevertheless regretted that their efforts to boost teacher capacity in the country have been hampered by inadequate funds.

At the signing ceremony on Friday, the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Public Service were put on the spotlight for failing to meet the deadline in preparing their contracts for signing.

Public Service Minister Dalmas Otieno assured that his ministry would be preparing human resource evaluation systems to support performance in all ministries.

“We shall be undertaking to ensure that you will have the staff of the right quality, commitment and level of motivation to help to deliver on your own respective performance contracts,” Otieno intimated.
Odinga in the meantime called on the Local Government ministry to address high level corruption and indebtedness in the various local authorities.

He noted that failure to prepare master plans and infrastructural plans had aggravated laxity in the enforcement of by-laws.

The Premier informed the civil servants that the government plans to merge some councils to ensure financial viability.

He said: “The poor record keeping by most local authorities has resulted not only in poor performance delivery but has also encouraged corruption because of lack of accountability.”


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