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Education Reforms Team Reveals Plans to Reduce TSC’s Powers, Collapse all TTCs

The taskforce on education has made far-reaching proposals that would include collapsing all Teachers Training Colleges (TTCs) into one autonomous entity. As it rushes to beat the June 9 deadline to wind up its operations, the Working Party on Education Reforms has also proposed that the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) cede some of its powers of managing schools and disciplining of teachers to the Ministry of Education.

This is likely to cause controversy as the powers and duties of the commission are prescribed in the Constitution and any alterations must be subject either to a twothirds vote in Parliament or, if need be, a referendum. However, if the team headed by Prof Raphael Munavu gets its way, TSC will be reduced to only hiring and deployment of teachers while the Ministry of Education will claw back some power and responsibilities.

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Crisis as Universities Operate Without Vice Chancellors

A member of the taskforce said it was erroneous for TSC to have been allowed to operate as both an employer and regulator. He spoke as the team members prepare to go for a final retreat during which they will fine-tune the final document for presentation to President William Ruto in ten days. University councils Among other far-reaching proposals, the team also recommends that the Public Service Commission (PSC), Cabinet Secretary for Education and the President delinked from the hiring of University Vice Chancellors and members of University Councils.

The team also recommends that the Public Service Commission, Cabinet Secretary for Education and the President delinked from the hiring of University Vice Chancellors and members of University Councils. Under the proposed arrangement, there would be one main TTC, with the rest of the colleges being run as affiliate campuses. members and VCs and other managers has been marred by politics, drawing in the involvement of the Office of the President, sometimes whittling down professionalism and merit.

“The management of universities should be left to professionals with minimum involvement of politicians, the Cabinet Secretary, the President and Ministry of Education,” a member of the task force told the People Daily in confidence.

On the current rivalry between TSC and the Ministry of Education, where each is running parallel offices in counties, the task force has recommended that TSC’s be whittled down. TSC, the draft report says, should only be left with the powers of hiring, promotion and deployment of teachers, the same way the Public Service Commission operates.

To actualise this, the team has recommended that Article 237 (1) of the Constitution be changed, since TSC is a constitutional commission, to cap its functions to primarily register, recruit and employ registered teachers. Besides hiring, TSC is empowered to assign teachers for service in any public school or institution, promote and transfer teachers, discipline and terminate their employment, mandates that give it sweeping powers, all of which are enshrined in the Constitution. Working Party on Education Reforms has proposed that TSC cede some of its powers to parent ministry.

Last week, Education CS Ezekiel Machogu named councils and vice-chancellors in appointments that affected 14 universities, many of which had operated without substantive office holders for over a year. Removing the CS and President from university appointments could potentially reduce politicising of the positions and increase their autonomy by reducing patronage. On TTCs, the team also recommends that they be run on the model used by the Kenya Medical Training College (KMTC).

Unlike in the present scenario where each TTC is run independently in terms of operations and management, the task force has recommended that their management be centralised and their management to be under one overall Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and one management board. Currently, each TTC has a Principal (who acts as CEO) and its own board. Cut-off points Under the proposed arrangement, there would be one main TTC, just like the Nairobi based KMTC, with the rest of the colleges being run as affiliate campuses. “As currently constituted, TTCs are run and funded like secondary schools, which is the reason they have been run down. But in the proposed set up, they would be operated at the level of tertiary institutions and completely independent of TSC and the Ministry,” part of the report to be presented to the President reads.

Besides the change of their operational structure, the task force also recommends to lower the minimum entry grade to a C plain, down from the current minimum grade C+. In addition, a student is required to have scored at least a C Plain in every subject tested. According to the team, the higher cut-off points have in the past locked out many deserving students. Ironically, there are only 3,000 trainees in all the 30 TTCs against an annual capacity of 22,000.

Lowering the minimum entry requirement would address the current trainee shortage and, in the long run, reduce the teacher shortage in schools. Another big departure from current practice is a proposal to ensure all teachers in primary schools specialise in given subjects. At present, many primary school teachers — particularly in lower primary — are jacks-of-all-trades, handling all subjects in a class.

This will change if the proposal is adopted. On the management of universities, the task force has proposed the amendment of the Universities Act (2012) to take back the powers of hiring VCs and their deputies to councils instead of the Public Service Commission. “University Councils should be appointed by the Cabinet Secretary in charge of Education on recommendation of a panel established for that purpose,” the draft report reads in part. “The procedure for appointment of university top management…VCs, DVCs, principals and deputy principals of constituent colleges, should revert to university councils in consultation with the Cabinet Secretary”. Professionalism Should the proposals be adopted, only prominent personalities with requisite expertise and experience would be appointed as council chairpersons and members to provide the necessary oversight.

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