The Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) hosted 2000 participants at the 2023 Annual Delegates Conference (ADC) held on December 4-6, 2023, at the Moi International Sports Complex Kasarani, Nairobi. This was the 63rd edition.
The successful conference had three key proceedings: The KNUT Elected Women Round Table; the theme discussion; and the reading of the National Executive Council (NEC) report by the Secretary General.
The National Women Round Table, which is marking the 16 days of activism against School Related Gender Based Violence (SRGBV), was held at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development on Monday, December 4, 2023, as a precursor to the main event. Participants called on employers to ensure all genders worked under safe environments.
There was significant emphasis on Convention No. 190 and Recommendation No. 206, which are the first international labour standards to provide a common framework to prevent, remedy and eliminate violence and harassment in the world of work, including gender-based violence and harassment. The Convention includes the specific recognition, for the first time in international law, of the right of everyone to a world of work free from violence and harassment, and sets out the obligation to respect, promote, and realise this right (Art. 4).
The second day of the conference focused on the theme of this year’s World Teachers Day celebrations, customised to the Kenyan situation – “The teachers we need for the education we want: The Kenyan imperative to reverse teacher shortage”. Key speakers addressed teacher motivation, funding education, and employment of teachers.
The three sub-themes brought out the pragmatic situation of the teacher we need to be able to reach the world expectations, especially now that the entire world was in the run to reform and align education to the global trends.
The presence of the Cabinet Secretary (CS) for education during the discourse enriched the deliberations. He expressed the government’s commitment to involve teachers in policy development on matters affecting them.
The third and final day of the conference, which had heavy government presence led by the Deputy President, the labour CS, education Principal Secretary (PS), and other high ranking government officers, was dominated by the Secretary General’s report on behalf of NEC.
The 47 page NEC report read by KNUT Secretary General Collins Ayuu, addressed key issues in the leadership of KNUT and matters affecting teachers as they discharge their duties. The areas he addressed include teacher employment, promotion, transfer, delocalisation, medical cover, pension, training needs, aligning CBC classes for effecting teaching and learning, and the challenges that special needs education teachers faced and how they could be addressed.
Teachers resolved that those employed on contract terms as interns be automatically put on permanent and pensionable schemes at the end of their first year of service.
On promotion, delegates resolved that all deserving teachers be considered for promotion to the next grades. They, however, faulted the Career Progression Guidelines (CPG) currently being used to address teachers’ upward professional mobility as not the best, compared to the scheme of service, which encouraged teachers to further their education and be considered for promotion.
On teacher transfer and delocalisation, delegates directed elected leaders to see to it that when transfers are conducted, they take into consideration the family unit. Transfers, just like the repealed delocalisation policy, had been noted to have ruined quite a number of families. Teachers, especially those in urban and hard to staff areas, are getting it rough in these transfers. Delegates observed that transfers, although an administrative matter, should be done in a way that facilitate good environments for work. It was also noted that Teachers Service Commission (TSC) was reintroducing transfers through promotions; that a teacher would be moved to a higher grade and into an administrative position, but then be posted in a faraway school with the excuse that it was the only station with vacancies.
On medical cover, teachers have complained about delays in the preauthorisation process. They further observed that delayed payments from treasury have led to suspension of services to members and refusal by the insurers to accredit facilities. Leaders were of the view that if given a chance, the insurers would provide better services. Delegates demanded that the long bureaucratic processes involved in the management of the medical scheme be addressed without further delays.
The conference also discussed teachers’ pension. Delegates faulted the management of the scheme, alleging the existence of extreme corruption. It was reported that some retiring teachers had been asked to pay up to Ksh100,000 bribe to access their pension. It was further observed that others would get access to their pension after more than two years into retirement. Delegates demanded that pension be handled by their employer (TSC), and that when teachers retire, they should be maintained on payroll until the time when the employer will have prepared their pensions.
Many other major resolutions were generated, including the need by unions to pressure the government to consider raising salaries due to the high cost of living. All these resolutions were pronounced in the presence of government officials, and it is the prayer of delegates and teachers of Kenya that when the right time comes, they will be properly implemented.
Year 2024 will no doubt be an eventful one, given the many resolutions made by teachers at the 63rd KNUT Annual Delegates Conference.
A country’s economy can only thrive when there is industrial harmony. It is the opinion of teachers of Kenya that the government invests in making peace with workers.
Secretary General – KNUT-KE