Relief as 1,500 ECDE teachers are put on permanent and pensionable terms

Governor Jackson Mandago (left), accompanied by Deputy Governor Daniel Chemno presents a package of face masks to Salina Rugut of Kaaboi Early Childhood Development centre in the county during the launch of distribution of face masks to pupils in the Early Childhood Development centres within the county on January 11, 2021.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

The Uasin Gishu County government will employ over 1,500 Early Childhood Development Education (ECDE) teachers as permanent and pensionable workers following a recommendation by the Senate.

The teachers had petitioned the Senate to compel county officials to address a raft of issues affecting them, including their employment status.

They also cited implementation of a scheme of service, poor remuneration, unprocedural stoppage of stipends and delayed wages in their petition to the Senate’s Labour and Social Welfare Committee

They complained that these issues and county officials’ failure to address them had demoralised them, leading to poor performance and mass resignations. They earned a maximum of Sh10,000 per month though they were hired more than nine years ago.

“Because of the poor welfare of ECDE teachers, many resigned for greener pastures, despite having trained for the profession. Lack of commitment by the county to address the issues has aggravated the matter,” said the tutors in their petition.

They asked the Senate to investigate the issues by interrogating the county secretary, the County Public Service Board and other relevant persons and agencies.

On May 12, Governor Jackson Mandago, the board and the Education executive appeared before the Senate committee in a virtual session and were asked about the teachers’ grievances.

Senator Johnes Mwaruma (Taita Taveta), the committee vice-chairperson, who chaired the meeting, reprimanded the governor for being casual in handling the teachers’ demands.

“It seems your executive in the Education department is not giving you the correct information. We want to see the commitment on the part of the county in addressing the issues raised since the petition is straightforward,” Mr Mwaruma said.

“The tutors should be on permanent and pensionable terms. It is not about the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) taking over the affairs of ECDE teachers because the Council of Governors (CoG) went to court to be solely given the function and they should not run away from it.”

The Education department has now placed an internal advert for 1,500 assistant ECDE teacher Grade Two, 100 ECDE teacher Grade Three and another 20 ECDE graduates Grade Three.

Mr Mandago told the committee that ‘taming the wage bill and shielding the tutors from taxation’ were some of the factors that prevented him from raising their pay.

“We are trying to manage the wage bill, because at the moment we spend Sh200 million annually to pay teachers, and if we put them on permanent and pensionable terms the emoluments would balloon by Sh350 annually,” he said, claiming that he had not received a formal complaint about the issues. 

“Besides, they are shielded from high taxation by the pay they receive.”

Nonetheless, he said, his government was committed to addressing the issues, pledging that the teachers would be put on permanent and pensionable terms by July 2022.

“We have approved the budget to employ the teachers on permanent terms. The County Public Service Board is scrutinising the individual documents to allow job grading. We shall comply with all the legal requirements to ensure the process is seamless,” he said.

Nominated Senator Alice Milgo said Uasin Gishu was among counties that had not implemented the scheme of service despite being approved in 2018.

“The governor should tell us how long it takes to implement such a policy now that there is another one coming up. Even if there are good infrastructures with a poorly remunerated teacher, the implementation of CBC will face challenges,” she said.

She asked the Uasin Gishu government to emulate other regions that pay their ECDE teachers up to Sh30,000 a month on permanent and pensionable terms.