NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 2 – The war of words between the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) and the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) over the delocalization policy escalated Thursday after the two sharply differed if the policy is to blame for the wave of school unrest.
The variance in opinion came to the fore when the two bodies clashed before the National Assembly Education Committee with TSC Chief Executive Officer Nancy Macharia insisting the transfer of teachers has nothing to do with the arson attacks, a contrary opinion held by KNUT’s Hesbon Otieno.
According to Macharia, the narrative held by some quarters attributing the unrest to the transfers of teachers is atrocious and inaccurate.
Macharia backed her pronouncements with statistics when she told members of the Julius Melly-led committee (Tinderet) that out of 1,065 principals who have since been transferred, only 90 schools experienced unrest because of the transfers.
“The 90 institutions affected by student unrest form only 8.5 per cent of the total cases of delocalization. For this reason, it is not statistically correct to lay an outright claim that delocalization is the reason for the mass student unrest countrywide,” she said.
Macharia expressed shock why the commission was being crucified over the transfers, yet the same transfers were being conducted in previous years en-mass and no one protested then.
While criticizing those opposed to the policy, Macharia said the resistance displayed by those against the policy was suspicious.
“The transfer of teachers is not a new phenomenon in the teaching service. The commission has been transferring teachers from way back but it surprises me to see people lament about it now,” she said.
In fact, she went ahead to tell the lawmakers, the policy was increasingly becoming popular within teachers’ circles and cited cases where teachers had applied to be transferred.
“Principals who have so far been delocalized have reported that they appreciate the significance of working outside their communities. In the same vein, as of now, the Commission has received several requests from principals who are yet to be delocalized to be considered for the same,” she said.
Subsequently, Macharia explained that the policy besides achieving a national outlook in the management of learning institutions has enabled marked improvement in lesson attendance by teachers under their supervision.
To prove further that indeed there is no correlation between the unrest and transfers, Macharia reported that in April 2018 there were no incidences of resistance from the part of students and local communities.
KNUT’s position that which was presented by Otieno however a painted a picture that solely placed delocalization as the reason for the arson attacks in schools.
“Out of the over 70 schools that have had unrest this term, 58 have new principals because of the policy. All the national schools that were razed this term have new principals.
“Following interviews with students from schools that have been closed due to unrest it has been established that much of the unrest stems from change in rules,” he said.
He called for complete scrapping of the policy saying that it would go a long way towards foiling future arson attacks in schools.
Otieno further attributed the wave of school unrest to diminishing roles of teachers in schools, poor school management practices, poor parenting and spoilt children and delayed disbursements which he linked to corruption.
Appearing separately before the committee, the Chairman of the Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association (KSSHA) Kahi Indimuli said the transfer of teachers is merely an inconsequential reason for students burn schools.
“We really need to be sincere with ourselves. Schools have been going up in flames before and those cases have never been attributed to the transfers, so why now? asked Indimuli.
According to data collected by Indimuli, a total of 107 schools have been affected by unrest ranging from arson, attempted arson, breakages and walkouts.
He added that due to the unrests, a total of 186 students have been arrested with a huge chunk of those being from Nairobi and Makueni at 32, followed by Homabay at 24 and the least being from Narok and Isiolo both registering 5.
He noted that the association was taking measures to help curb future incidents by among others organizing more capacity building workshops for principals in a bid to equip principals with skills on how to manage the modern-day student.