North Eastern Teachers’ Case Encouraged for Out-of-Court Settlement

In a recent development at the Employment and Labour Relations Court (ELRC), Justice Matthews Nduma Nderi has urged the parties involved in the case of North Eastern teachers seeking to quash their reposting to consider settling the matter out of court. This significant move comes in response to the prolonged absence of teachers in the North Eastern region, adversely affecting students. The judge emphasized the importance of a swift resolution, urging the parties to engage in an out-of-court settlement before the case’s next mention on March 5, 2024.

Background

The case, brought forward by the Kenya Teachers in Hardship and Arid Areas Welfare Association (KETHAWA), represents teachers who were interdicted by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC). The teachers allege insecurity, discrimination, and violation of their rights, prompting their relocation and subsequent disciplinary actions.

Justice Bernard Odongo Manani Matanga had previously issued orders preventing the reposting of teachers until the case is heard and determined. Justice Nderi has extended these orders until March 5, 2024, providing a temporary relief for the teachers.

The Urgency for Resolution

During the virtual inter-parties hearing, Justice Nderi granted the respondents, including TSC, Ministry of Education, Attorney General, and Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government, 21 days to file their responses. Simultaneously, the applicants were given 14 days to submit a supplementary affidavit and submissions.

Justice Nderi underscored the urgency of resolving the matter, pointing out the adverse impact on North Eastern learners due to the prolonged absence of their teachers. Encouraging an out-of-court settlement, he emphasized the constitutional obligation to consider the well-being of students and the broader community.

Parties’ Responses

Following the hearing, Wangonya Wangenye, the National Secretary of KETHAWA and lead counsel representing the teachers, expressed readiness to engage in a constructive dialogue with TSC. Wangenye highlighted that no further disciplinary actions would be taken against the teachers, and they would not be reposted to North Eastern during this period. He also acknowledged the judge’s call for an out-of-court settlement, stating their willingness to explore an amicable resolution outside the court.

Final Thoughts

The North Eastern teachers’ case stands at a critical juncture, with the court advocating for a swift resolution. As the parties prepare their responses, the possibility of an out-of-court settlement presents itself as a pragmatic and expeditious way to address the teachers‘ concerns. The focus remains on balancing the rights of the teachers with the urgent need to ensure continuity in education for the North Eastern learners. The next mention on March 5, 2024, holds the promise of shedding more light on the path this case will take, either through litigation or through a collaborative, out-of-court resolution.

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