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TSC Explains Why It stopped automatic promotions

The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) has   revealed that the increasing number of teachers attaining higher qualifications in form of diplomas and degrees is the reason it stopped automatic promotion of teachers based on attainment of higher qualifications.

Responding to a petition tabled in the National Assembly by nominated Member of Parliament and former Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) Secretary General Hon. Wilson Sossion on behalf of concerned teachers notably Martha Omollo, Eva Muchemi and Salvin Munene, TSC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr. Nancy Njeri Macharia stated that the increase in the number of teachers attaining higher qualifications made the policy unsustainable hence the Commission  stopped automatic promotions on  January 9,  2014. In the petition dated February 7, 2022, Sossion stated that in the interest of self-improvement, many teachers progressively advanced their qualifications by pursuing and successfully earning higher qualifications ranging from Diploma, Bachelors, Masters and even Doctorate degrees (Ph.D.).

He wanted the House, through its Departmental Committee on Education and Research, to intervene in the matter and inquire into the circumstances under which TSC in 2014 unilaterally declined to recognize Diploma, undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate degrees earned by in-service teachers from recognized universities. In TSC’s defense, Dr. Macharia stated that with effect from January 9, 2014, the Commission transited from the automatic promotion of teachers on attainment of higher qualifications inform of Diplomas and Degrees. “Admittedly, the high number of teachers attaining higher qualifications made the policy fiscally unsustainable,” said Dr. Macharia.

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Data from TSC revealed that there were about 218,077 teachers in public primary schools as at 2020.  21,632 teachers (9,821 male and 11,811 female) had Diploma qualifications, while 17,930 teachers (8,627 male and 9,303 female) had Bachelors Degrees. About 491 teachers had Masters and Doctorate degrees (197 male and 294 female) while the rest had certificate qualifications. In post primary institutions, there were about 113,155 teachers as at 2020.  1, 725 teachers (909 male teachers and 816 female teachers) had Masters and Doctorate Degrees (Ph. D.). Historically, primary school teachers who acquired higher qualifications in form of either Diploma in Education or a Bachelors’ Degree from a recognized institution were automatically promoted to Job Group J and K respectively.

“This automatic promotion was possible due to the fact that there was adequate funding in the establishment,” added Dr. Macharia. Dr. Macharia said that in 2016, the entire public service, on the advice of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) and in keeping with international best practice, transited from qualifications-based remuneration framework to the job worth concept. As a result of this, TSC and SRC conducted a Job Evaluation (JE) exercise for the teaching sector with a view to obtaining the relevant worth of every job in the teaching service.

This resulted in a more viable and appropriate career growth for teachers that are predictable, equitable and sustainable. Dr. Macharia further stated that the JE report informed the 2017-2021 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) negotiations between the Commission and the teacher Unions:  the  Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) and Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) and consequently, TSC and the Unions collectively and voluntarily negotiated a CBA that embraced the job worth concept of remuneration. “The JE introduced the Patterson Grading Structure that focuses on the worth of the job being performed by each employee as a basis for remuneration. It is this remuneration framework that accords to the constitutional imperatives enunciated under Article 230 of the Constitution, which includes productivity, affordability, wage sustainability, certainty, predictability and parity,” said Dr. Macharia.

She maintained that the transition from the qualification-based remuneration framework was not unilateral since the same was discussed with the teacher Unions at several meetings before the cut-off date was settled on. She further added that the Commission still recognized higher qualification as a basis of promotion alongside other criteria as set out in the CPG and that the allegations that the Commission arbitrarily stopped recognizing higher qualifications is factually incorrect and lacks foundational arguments.

“A good case in point is that, under the CPG, for a teacher to be promoted to the position of head teacher at Grade C5 or senior head teacher at Grade D1, they must be holders of a Bachelor’s Degree in education,” she added.  Dr. Macharia further stated that the CBA read together with the CPG provided a structural career progression path for each cadre in the teaching service. According to the TSC boss, the CPG maps out teachers’ promotion based on established criteria of declared vacancies and budgetary provisions, while at the same time taking into account the higher qualifications attained by a teacher during their professional life. She said that in the 2021-2025 CBA, TSC, KNUT, KUPPET and Kenya Union of Special Needs Education Teachers (KUSNET) reiterated that the CPG and the CORT should be the only policy frameworks used to guide the promotion of teachers.

“Promotion of teachers from one grade to another is guided by the provisions of the CORT and the CPG. These two instruments provide the minimum qualification required for each grade and the conditions to be met before a teacher is promoted to the next grade,” said Dr. Macharia. In the same petition, Hon Sossion expressed concern that Section 35(2) (a) of the TSC Act, 2012 emphasized the need for the Commission to require every registered teacher to undertake career progression and professional development programmes.

Sossion wanted the House to recommend that TSC should immediately put in place the necessary policy guidelines to promote or upgrade teachers who successfully acquire higher qualifications from recognized institutions in line with international best practice and recommendations of the International Labour Organization (ILO)/UNESCO Conference (1966) on the status of teachers.

Dr. Macharia reiterated that Clause 44 of the ILO recommendations requires that promotion of teachers should be based on an objective assessment of a teacher’s qualifications for the new post, by reference to strictly professional criteria laid down in consultation with teacher organizations. “That is what the Commission has done and will continue doing from time to time,” he said. She further noted that no employee in the entire civil service, including employees of the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC), Judicial Service Commission (JSC), and Public Service Commission (PSC), is automatically promoted upon attaining a higher qualification. “All public servants are promoted based on authorised established criteria, declared vacancies, budgetary allocations and other objective criteria set out in their respective human resource manuals.

The Commission has endeavoured to apply the principle of fair competition and merit as the basis of promotion. The Commission also considers other factors such as budgetary provisions, authorised establishments, performance, as well as the principles of equity, fairness, and regional balance,” said Dr. Macharia. Dr. Macharia stressed that CPG is a comprehensive guide encompassing all the necessary factors to be considered in teacher promotion. For instance, the CPG outlines academic and professional standards for teacher career advancement, a linkage of teacher’s career progression to the output and professional standards, and performance and experience.

“The Career Progression Guidelines therefore integrates contemporary best practice in teacher management. Pursuant to these guidelines, higher qualifications are considered as added advantage during the promotion process and a minimum requirement for headship in primary schools,” added Dr. Macharia. In 2017, TSC made a policy decision to annually deploy 1,000 primary school teachers who have acquired higher qualifications and also meet the required standards to secondary schools, which is done competitively to ensure that the principle of fair competition is achieved.

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