NAIROBI, October 8 – The government will promote close to 20,000 primary school head teachers in the country, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka said on Tuesday.,
Addressing this year’s edition of the Kenya Primary School Head Teachers conference in Mombasa, Mr Musyoka assured the teachers that the government would fulfil the promise made by President Mwai Kibaki during their 2006 national conference.
He said that the government felt that teachers needed to be rewarded for the contribution and sacrifices they had made to the success of the implementation of Free Primary Education.
“There is no way the Presidential directive would just be ignored like that,” he emphasised.
During the 2006 conference the head teachers had initially proposed to be promoted to grade ATSI which was going to cost the government Sh3.6 billion. Mr Musyoka however said that the government had agreed with teachers to be promoted by one grade which was going to be affordable to the government to a tune of Sh600 million.
The VP who is also the Home Affairs Minister at the same time said that the government had directed the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to hire intern teachers under special arrangements to ease shortage of teachers. The VP said the shortage was due to the phenomenal rate of enrolment occasioned by the Free Primary Education (FPE) Program. 4,000 new primary school teachers have already been recruited, he said.
He added that already a clearly structured scheme of service providing a merit –based career progression path for teachers is being discussed to harmonise qualification, salaries and terms of service of all public servants. The VP said that the government has selection criteria in place by which two percent of the 245,000 teachers are promoted every year after a competitive interview process.
Mr Musyoka expressed his confidence that the recommendations of the Teachers Salaries Review Board which was appointed by the Ministry of Education are working around the clock.
The government is currently in negotiations with the Kenya National Union of Teachers over the harmonisation of their salaries but the union has expressed concerns with the pace of the negotiations and threatened street action. Last Friday another teacher’s association, the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers which represent teachers in secondary schools and tertiary institutions, called off an intended strike to protest against the discrepancies in their perks.
The union’s Secretary General Njeru Kanyamba on Tuesday admitted that the union abandoned the strike after realising that they were fighting a losing battle since they had no mandate to call a strike. He said the government could have taken advantage of the strike to sack the teachers.
Mr Kanyamba said that Education Minister Professor Sam Ongeri had also instructed the registrar of societies to deregister the union in the event that the teachers went on strike.
Speaking in Meru the Secretary General said that the union was working towards reaching the 51 percent membership requirement. He however accused the TSC for hindering their muscle for failing to approve many of their applications. “We are ready to go ahead with the strike, but let us first ensure that we get the legal recognition by making the Teachers Service Commission register all the teachers who have applied to be our members,” he said.
The local KUPPET branch criticised their national officials for suspending the strike without consulting them. Led by their Executive Secretary Julius Mbijiwe, the teachers said the national office had let them down for calling off the strike at the last minute.
Kanyamba said the union had given the government up to November 14 to sign the recognition agreement and involve them in the talks for their salaries harmonisation, which should be sealed by December 24 this year. He said if by then no tangible result will have been achieved, then the union will have no otherwise but to issue another strike notice and proceed without reference to the government.