Transferred teachers in N.Rift still stuck in old stations months after policy scrapped

Students of Turkwel Gorge Secondary School in West Pokot county on November, 24, 2022

Students of Turkwel Gorge Secondary School in West Pokot county on November, 24, 2022.

Photo credit: Oscar Kakai | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) initiated the delocalisation policy in 2018
  • The Kenya Kwanza government reversed it in November 2022 after Parliament passed a motion by Lurambi MP Titus Khamala
  • National Assembly's Education Committee gave the TSC until January 31, 2023, to complete the process of returning delocalised teachers to their homes

Hundreds of delocalised teachers in the North Rift are still stuck in their current posts, months after the government abolished the policy.

Government officials in the region are allegedly frustrating the teachers by refusing to transfer them back to their home counties.

Trans Nzoia, Uasin Gishu and Bungoma counties have been particularly affected, with officials allegedly demanding bribes from teachers seeking to return to their home counties, even after the Kenya Kwanza government under President William Ruto reversed the policy. 

It has exacerbated the crisis of an acute teacher shortage in West Pokot County, where schools are understaffed and where some 6,000 teachers were affected by the policy.

The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) initiated the delocalisation policy in 2018. However, after coming to power, the Kenya Kwanza government reversed it in November 2022 after Parliament passed a motion by Lurambi MP Titus Khamala.

In December 2022, Parliament directed the teachers’ employer to effect the transfer of 14,733 who had been forced out of their home areas by the controversial delocalisation policy.

The National Assembly's Education Committee consequently gave the TSC until January 31, 2023, to complete the process of returning delocalised teachers to their homes.

Demanding bribes

Teachers in the North Rift, who spoke to Nation.Africa on condition of anonymity, said they had not been transferred back to their home counties because education officials in their current counties want bribes.

"I have tried my best to go back to West Pokot County but I am asked to give Sh100,000 first, but we should be transferred back unconditionally," claimed a teacher in Trans Nzoia County. 

"I have given up because someone wants to abuse me so that I can be rerouted back home," the teacher claimed.

It has since emerged that non-local teachers who have been redeployed are reluctant to leave West Pokot County and other hardship areas because of the hardship allowance.

Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) officials in West Pokot County have been protesting and have since accused the TSC of frustrating the teachers' return home resolution.

Deficit

Knut Secretary-General Martin Sembelo said the county was short of 2,500 teachers. 

"We have our transferred teachers in Trans Nzoia and Uasin Gishu counties. We want TSC to carry out their transfers so that they can return home. Many have been crying that they have been denied the opportunity to return home," he said.

He said the Teachers' Salary Subsidy (TSS) could not be well implemented without adequate teachers.

"We don't want to fight with the TSS. Parliament unanimously approved the decision and we as a union are disturbed and dismayed," said Mr Sembelo, accusing the TSC headquarters of being at the centre of the crisis.

"Teachers' morale is very low. There was no communication during the delocalisation and now we don't want many conditions. The regional education director should take responsibility," Mr Sembelo said, calling on the President and local leaders to intervene.

"We are not chasing away foreign teachers. We just want our local teachers back in West Pokot to fill the shortage in our schools. It was a must that they were delocalised and it should be a must that they are rerouted," he said.

Indigenous language

Mr Sembelo noted that the redeployment of teachers was not in line with Unesco’s teacher deployment practice, which treats education as a cultural process that takes place within the cultural context of a people at the local level.

He said local teachers would be instrumental in teaching the indigenous language.

Knut West Pokot chairman Joel Patrich echoed these sentiments, noting that for the indigenous language subject in the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) to perform well, teachers from the county needed to return home.

West Pokot County Teachers Service Commission director Bernard Kimachasi noted that the county has a deficit of 2,000 in primary schools and 800 in secondary schools.

"The shortfall affects the whole country and we need more teachers," he said.