By John Machio.
County Governments have commenced the process of hiring Early Childhood Development Education (ECDE) teachers registered by Teachers Service Commission (TSC) as they offload unregistered caregivers, Education News has learnt.
The fresh recruitment exercise follows the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between County Governments and the Commission, where the TSC has committed to work closely with Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT), Salaries and Remuneration Commission, Council of Governors, Commission on Revenue Allocation, Controller of Budget and the National Treasury to develop a Scheme of Service for ECDE teachers.
The Commission is to sign MOUs with all the 47 counties; however, impeccable sources at TSC Headquarters hinted that plans are underway for the Commission to enter into a pact with the Council of Governors on behalf of Regional Governments.
At the time of filing this report, TSC had signed the MOU with Kericho and Kisumu County Governments and it was now headed to Kisii, Mombasa, Machakos, Nairobi, Busia, Bungoma, Nyeri, Nakuru, Kajiado, Makueni, Siaya, Trans Nzoia, Narok, Meru, Kitale, Kilifi, Kakamega, Vihiga and Kiambu in that order.
KNUT is scheduled to sign a recognition agreement with the Council of Governors once it finalizes recruiting ECDE teachers. Nursery school tutors have agreed to be represented by the giant teachers’ union.
Last December, High Court sitting in Nairobi ordered TSC to register ECDE teachers before they are employed by County Governments. Justice Isaac Lenaola in a landmark ruling said though County Governments will continue hiring and remunerating ECDE teachers, TSC in accordance with the Constitution (2010) will offer the oversight role on this cadre of staff. The Commission is constitutionally mandated to register teachers entering the teaching service, setting condition of service and handling discipline cases.
The High Court ruled that County Governments are allowed to recruit and remunerate ECDE teachers. But these pre-unit teachers must first be registered by the Commission and issued with a practicing certificate.
The court said this cadre of staff, though will be remunerated by County Governments, will be regulated by TSC to ensure quality and standards are achieved at all times.
The Commission has since changed their roles of regulating teachers entering the service and will now set guidelines on how these teachers will be engaged, retained, remunerated and how they progress through the ladder.
“ECDE teachers already in employment will be allowed to continue serving in their current positions. But TSC has to move with speed and regularize their employment with the County Governments”, the court ruled in a case where KNUT had challenged the recruitment of ECDE teachers, arguing that County Governments are abusing the mandate of TSC.
The Council of Governors says a team made up of County Education Executives, TSC and the National Government, will develop a scheme of service for ECDE teachers.
Following signing of the MOU between the Council of Governors and the Commission, KNUT has embarked on a countrywide recruitment of ECDE teachers.
Addressing the Press moments after the signing of MOU in Kisumu, KNUT Senior Executive Officer, Benta Opande expressed hope that ECDE teachers have a future as their employment is now secure. With implementation of the Scheme of Service, there is room for them to go up the ladder.
“Previously, it was not easy for these teachers to join KNUT because they were not registered by the Commission. We’re going to move across the country and sign a deal with counties to recruit these teachers so as they can enjoy the benefits of being union members,” said Opande.
“There are over 110,000 ECDE teachers already employed by County Governments, churches and NGOs who are not KNUT members. These are teachers we are targeting for recruitment,” said Opande on the sideline of the MOU signing ceremony.
KNUT Secretary-General, Wilson Sossion appealed to TSC to speed up the registration of ECDE teachers to allow County Governments to hire them. “We are calling on the National Government to expedite the process so that TSC does not become a stumbling block.
The top union official said KNUT has already signed MOUs with Kericho and Kisumu County Governments.