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JSS Moguls Win Big in Fight For Increased Salaries, Better Working Terms

Teachers Service Commission (TSC) plans to spend Sh28.88 billion in the next financial year to employ Junior Secondary School intern teachers, who have been on strike, on permanent and pensionable terms, recruit additional interns and promote teachers. Half of the 46,000 intern teachers could now be absorbed into service on permanent and pensionable terms by July instead of January next year as had been scheduled. Out of the amount, Sh8.3 billion will be used to absorb 26,000 of the 46,000 striking teachers while Sh4.68 billion will be used for the recruitment of additional 20,000 interns effective July.

Another Sh1 billion will be set aside to cater for the promotion of teachers who had stagnated in one job group for almost 17 years while Sh13 billion will be spent on the implementation of the second phase of the collective bargaining agreement for 2021-25. Documents tabled before MPs shows the commission will spend Sh1.3 billion for retooling of JSS teachers on the Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) while Secondary Education Quality Improvement Project (SEQIP) scheduled to end next December has been allocated Sh200 million. The Kenya Primary Education Equity in Learning Programme (KPEELP) has been allocated Sh204 million.

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TSC acting chief executive Cheptumo Ayabei, in his presentation before MPs, said the commission had an accumulative reduction of Sh5.033 billion comprising Sh5 billion reductions in recurrent expenditure and Sh33 million reductions in development expenditure. The commission was allocated Sh364.91 billion in the draft budget estimates for the financial year 2024/25 while in the approved 2024 Budget Policy Statement (BPS) it had been allocated Sh369.943 billion. “The approved 2024 BPS indicates the Commission’s allocation as Sh369.943 billion while the draft budget estimates for FY 2024.25 have an allocation of Sh364.91 billion. This indicates an overall reduction of Sh5.033 billion that is; Sh5 billion reductions in recurrent expenditure and Sh33 million reductions in development expenditure,” said Ayabei.

National Assembly Education Committee chair Julius Melly, who appeared before the Budget and Appropriations Committee (BAC) to defend the education sector budget, told TSC to employ the 26,000 intern teachers on permanent and pensionable terms beginning July and not January as proposed. “The intern teachers will be converted into permanent and pensionable terms from July at a cost of Sh8.3 billion,” Melly told the MPs.

“The conversion of the terms of service for intern teachers will boost their morale and is also an assurance over the government’s commitment in ensuring that all future intern teachers are converted to permanent employment after successfully completing the internship period,” he added. In his submissions, Melly however told TSC to streamline the recruitment processes to ensure that resources assigned to the exercise are fully utilized. He also directed the commission to, within the next six months, undertake and evaluate staffing norms requirements for all institutions of Basic learning (Primary. Junior School, Senior School) in order to assess the optimal number of teachers required to guide future resource allocation for recruitment of teachers as well as their deployment; On the promotion of teachers which the commission has been allocated Sh1 billion, Melly explained that the commission required Sh 2 billion to undertake the exercise in which Sh1 billion had been allocated under the current financial year while the allocation proposed in 2024/25 will support its successful completion with all teachers who have stagnated in various job groups for almost 17 years benefitting.

“However, the Commission requires additional resources to continuously promote teachers to avoid another backlog of stagnations going into the future,” Melly stated. The sentiments by Melly come just a day after BAC chairperson Ndindi Nyoro assured the JSS interns that they would soon be absorbed into the system.

“TSC is the number one highest funded institution in Kenya with over Sh300 billion. We want to reassure JSS teachers that we are going to provide money for their confirmation to permanent and pensionable terms to intern,” Nyoro said.

Last Thursday the JSS teachers who have been holding weekly protests over their contracts started receiving show-cause letters from the commission. The interns were asked to submit responses on the matter within 14 days after they have received the said letter’s failure to which the commission would take action against them. The show cause letters came despite Justice Bryrum Ongaya of the Employment and Labour Relations Court on April 17 ruling that TSC violated the intern teachers’ right to fair labour practice. “It is noted with a lot of concern that you breached the provisions of TSC Act Schedule Clause (b) in that you engaged in professional misconduct by being absent from duty,” the letter reads in part.

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