Power Shift: Proposed Reforms Could Strip Teachers Service Commission of Major Powers

The winds of change are blowing in the education sector, and the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) might find itself in the eye of the storm. The proposed reforms, as put forward by the Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms (PWPER), could lead to a significant shift of powers from the TSC to the Ministry of Education. Brace yourselves for the details!

Under these reform proposals, the Ministry of Education will have a say in crucial areas currently handled exclusively by the TSC. One such area is the transfer and promotion of teachers, which lies at the core of the TSC’s mandate. The rationale behind this proposal is that while the ministry provides billions of shillings to schools, it lacks influence over the fund managers who report directly to the TSC. It’s a case of having the purse strings, but not the power to direct their use.

To address this issue, the PWPER suggests that school heads, who are designated as TSC agents, should be made accountable to the Ministry of Education. This would mean a departure from the current practice where school heads are answerable to the TSC. The aim is to align the accountability of school heads with the ministry, as they oversee the utilization of funds provided by the ministry itself.

The report highlights the fact that the TSC lacks the capacity to effectively supervise financial management at schools. As a result, the proposal recommends that the ministry assumes this responsibility. In cases of financial mismanagement by headteachers or principals, the ministry should have the power to hold them accountable and take appropriate disciplinary action. This shift in authority would have a significant impact on the human resource mandate of the TSC.

But that’s not all! The ministry is also poised to take over the role of retraining teachers, which has been an exclusive mandate of the TSC. Currently, the TSC has the power to influence the professional development of over 300,000 teachers nationwide. However, under the proposed reforms, the ministry would establish the Kenya School of Teacher Management (KeSTEM) as a corporate body to coordinate and regulate all in-service programs for teachers.

In addition to these changes, disciplinary matters concerning teachers might no longer fall under the purview of the TSC alone. An independent tribunal would be tasked with handling disciplinary cases, offering aggrieved teachers an opportunity for review at the Education Appeals Tribunal, which would be overseen by the ministry. This means that the TSC’s powers as a regulator and employer could be significantly curtailed, while another independent body called the Kenya Professional Teaching Standards (KePTS) would assume the regulatory mandate currently held by the TSC.

As if that wasn’t enough, the PWPER proposes that the TSC shares its procurement powers with the ministry, particularly concerning the teachers’ medical scheme. The aim is to streamline procurement processes and ensure effective management of resources.

These reforms, if implemented, would reshape the educational landscape and redefine the roles and responsibilities of both the TSC and the Ministry of Education. While change can be unsettling, it is essential to adapt and evolve to meet the needs of an ever-changing education system. Only time will tell how these proposed reforms will shape the future of education in Kenya.


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