Teachers Service Commission (TSC) is planning to renew contracts for 46,000 intern teachers in January, providing them with an additional year of tenure. The lack of budgetary allocation, a reason cited by the TSC, is preventing the conversion of their employment into permanent and pensionable terms.
Nancy Macharia, the CEO of TSC, informed the Senate Committee on Education that, due to financial constraints inhibiting their permanent absorption, they will extend these contracts originally set to expire in January 2024. The Commission maintains its incapacity to afford permanent positions; however, Macharia underscored a promise: an assurance of priority given by the TSC towards filling school vacancies with these teachers.
In the current year, intern teachers were recruited, making significant contributions to junior schools, especially those with only Grade Seven. With an expected additional class next year, the workload on these teachers is projected to double.
Macharia elucidated the financial constraints: “Our current resources do not allow for permanent employment with pension benefits; however, funds are available to extend their contracts. Should we receive additional funding ” she paused, then continued emphatically “we will integrate them into our workforce.”
The Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) advocates for a conversion to permanent terms. Failure to do so before the January 2024 expiration date, Kuppet Secretary-General Akello Misori expresses concerns, fearing it could disrupt CBC implementation during an essential transition period into Grade Eight, ensuring continuity in executing the competency-based curriculum (CBC).
Misori emphasized that these intern teachers play a pivotal role in the CBC transition; however, they face significant challenges: low salaries, lack of medical insurance, and non-contributory pension schemes.
In a recent meeting, Macharia disclosed that the TSC maintains an extensive waiting list for promotions, totaling 34,970 teachers. She attributed delayed promotions to financial constraints, specifically breaking down current grades: 21,051 teachers at Grade C3 and another batch of 13,919 teaching professionals under Grade C5. The government has scheduled promotions for these educators to commence; interviews are set from December 4th, with an estimated cost of Sh1.1 billion.
Addressing concerns about non-local teachers seeking transfers from schools in the North Eastern region due to security fears, the TSC CEO presented crucial statistics: out of 661 transfer applications received by Macharia, a confirmed number that stands at 25. In an effort to mitigate staffing shortages, the TSC actively recruits retired teachers — specifically those below age 65 on a contract basis.
The fate of these intern teachers and the broader staffing challenges they face necessitate a balanced approach to education and employment policies in Kenya. This balance is crucial for ensuring the continuity of quality education.