JSS Moguls to Boycott Classes From Tomorrow

The over 20,000 Junior Secondary Schools (JSS) teachers have maintained a hardline stance that they will not report to duty as the new term commences on Monday unless their grievances are addressed. The teachers complained that their grievances to be hired on permanent and pensionable basis had not been addressed todate.

John Melvin, a JSS teacher in Nairobi, led his colleagues in asking the government to stop politicizing education and do things the right way. “Teachers are complaining about employment and should be confirmed. We have issued an official notice to Teachers Service Commission on the strike and we are not reporting to any learning institution even if we are coerced to whatever extent. We are aware that they have been threatening us with deregistration but we will not subject ourselves to that coercion and intimidation,” said Melvin.

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The teachers warned about attempts to intimidate them into silence, saying that a demonstration that was to be held yesterday could not take off because they could not obtain the requisite permit from the police. They also complained about the merging of subjects under Competency Based Curriculum (CBC), saying it would overload them. Melvin gave an example of merging pretechnical studies with computer and business studies saying that is a wide scope to handle within one lesson of about 40 minutes.

“We have issues with merging some learning areas. For example, pre-technical studies is being merged with computer and business studies, how do you expect a teacher to teach that as one learning area? We do not have books to teach that learning area,” he said. “Again, is there a curriculum design to guide teachers on how to handle that learning area and are teachers trained to teach that learning area? What we know is that teachers are trained to teach business or computer studies. Now, when they are merged, how do you expect teachers to teach that yet he or she has been trained in one of the areas?” posed Melvin.

The teachers said that TSC and the Ministry of Education should urgently look into this matter and stop rushing things and do things in an orderly manner. Another JSS teacher, Patience Nkatha in Tharaka Nithi said teachers have been blocked from picketing so that their issues cannot be addressed. “It has come to our attention that teachers are now restricted from speaking out, exercising their rights to picket.

We are aware the letter was served to the OCS and it was rejected and we do not know why that means something is going on that is not right,” she said. Nkatha explained that their contracts as JSS teachers started in February last year and were supposed to lapse on December 31. However, before it could lapse, Nkatha said that a TSC representative said that their contracts had been extended for another year.

“They clearly indicated that it was a one year non renewable contract and once it lapsed we were supposed to be confirmed into permanent and pensionable terms. We do not understand why we are suddenly being told to renew the contracts and we are also being told there is no money,” she said. Similarly, she said they have not seen books merging the subjects and wondered how they are to go to class for a 40 minutes lesson with three textbooks to teach three subjects in one lesson.

“We are not cheap labor and we are supposed to be treated like any other person working for the government. There are no curriculum designs given, you go to create lesson plans with three curriculum designs that is not possible it is confusing the teachers and learners,” said Nkatha. “I do not know why parents are quiet about these issue, they are supposed to come and complain because these are your learners that are being wasted,” she added.

The teachers said there is a big difference between retooling and training of teachers, noting that they should be offered with enhancement courses. Last month, President William Ruto affirmed that internship programmes must take two years before being absorbed on permanent and pensionable terms. Ruto said that this is the Government policy that will be adopted in all sectors, not only for the teaching profession, even as he assured the Junior Secondary teachers that their contract will continue in January.

Once they complete their internship of two years, Ruto assured that they will be given the first priority in hiring permanently. “We will hire everybody so they need to relax, let them go through the process and will have the first priority when we hire teachers after the internship. We are not only doing internships with teachers but also in many other sectors,” said Ruto in a televised interview. “JSS teachers will still work in January because the Kenya Kwanza Government manifesto provides that all sectors, before being hired on permanent and pensionable terms, you first work under an internship programme for two years,” he added.

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