The Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) is making headlines as it contemplates boycotting the invigilation, supervision, and marking of national examinations, particularly the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE). The union has cited inadequate treatment, challenging working conditions, delayed payments, and a lack of agreement with the Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC) as reasons for their discontent.
Boycott Looms Over Poor Treatment:
The impending national examinations, scheduled for the end of the month, are clouded with uncertainty as KUPPET’s leadership raises serious concerns. At an annual general meeting in Kisii County, the union’s national officers emphasized the need to address these issues before their members decide to offer their services.
KNEC and KUPPET Clash Over Terms:
One of the primary grievances expressed by KUPPET is the lack of a formal agreement with KNEC regarding the appointment and utilization of teachers in invigilating and marking national examinations. Teachers, often working long hours, are displeased with the meager and delayed compensation they receive. KNEC’s current pay structure, offering less than Ksh 100 per marked paper with variations depending on the subject, is a major point of contention.
Equal Pay for Equal Work:
KNEC’s practice of paying security teams (policemen) while teachers endure lengthy delays in payment is seen as discrimination by KUPPET. The union advocates for equal pay for equal work, a principle that is enshrined in Kenya’s progressive constitution.
Working Conditions Under Scrutiny:
KUPPET further highlights the poor working conditions of teachers who mark national examinations. They liken the examination marking centers to concentration camps, where teachers are deprived of communication devices like mobile phones. These conditions not only hinder the teachers’ ability to stay connected with their families but also pose health risks as they are exposed to unhygienic student dormitories that are infested with bedbugs.
Boycott as a Negotiation Tactic:
In response to these grievances, KUPPET has urged its members not to report to examination and marking centers until KNEC addresses their concerns. The union intends to use this boycott as a means to renegotiate the rates of payment per paper, which they deem to be unacceptably low.
The Fight for Equality:
KUPPET’s leadership also takes issue with the vast salary disparities among teachers working in similar environments. The gap between what a classroom teacher earns and what a head teacher earns stands at around 75 percent. The union aims to negotiate with the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to narrow this gap to the internationally accepted standard of no more than 25 percent.
KUPPET alleges that despite recommending a salary increase of between 30 and 70 percent in a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) for 2021, this increase remains unimplemented. The union claims that a technical committee was established to investigate the matter but has yet to produce results.
Teachers in Conflict Zones:
Another striking demand by KUPPET is that teachers working in conflict-prone areas, such as Lamu, Kapedo, and Samburu, be equipped with guns to ensure their safety. The union believes that arming teachers is a proactive measure to protect educators, communities, and students in these volatile regions.
Challenges in Junior Schools:
The union also highlights challenges in junior schools, where university graduate teachers are being compelled to teach primary classes despite their job descriptions and the breadth of subjects they are expected to cover. This issue has created conflict between junior school teachers and station heads, who are primarily P1 qualified.