Court gives TSC go ahead on teacher training plan

Nancy Macharia

Teachers Service Commission boss Nancy Macharia, Knut Secretary-General Collins Oyuu (centre) and the Riara University Vice-Chancellor, Prof Robert Gateru, during the Teacher Professional Development (TPD) programme launch in Karen, Nairobi on September 22, 2021.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The government can now proceed with the rollout of the Teacher Professional Development programme after the court dismissed a petition challenging its implementation.

The Employment and Labour Relations Court sitting in Nakuru has given the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) the green light to continue with the execution of the programme after finding the process to be in line with the Constitution.

Justice David Nderitu dismissed the petition Mr Joseph Ngethe Karanja—said to be an education consultant filed—for lack of proof.

The judge said that Mr Karanja crafted a petition alleging violation of specific constitutional provisions and articles but failed to provide sufficient evidence to prove the said violations.

TSC announced the launch of the TPD on September 22, 2021, requiring all the teachers registered with the commission to undertake the six-module course that would form the basis of their promotion and employment going forward.

Each teacher was to pay Sh6,000 for each module, which would be valid for five years, before taking the next module.

It appointed Mt Kenya University, Kenyatta University, Riara University and the Kenya Education Management Institute to offer the professional training.

However, Mr Karanja moved to court on September 27, 2021 seeking to stop the implementation of the programme, citing lack of public participation and violation of teachers’ rights.

He accused the commission of failing to engage education stakeholders before rolling out the plans and breaching procurement laws in the appointment of the institutions that should carry out the training.

Engaging stakeholders

Mr Karanja faulted the commission for what he said was imposing an expensive programme through a collective bargaining agreement without engaging stakeholders.

He sued the Education Cabinet Secretary, TSC, the universities, Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet), Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) and the Attorney-General.

In its defence, TSC, through lawyer Lawrence Karanja, said it was only performing its mandate in line with the Constitution in reviewing the standards of education and training of persons joining the teaching profession.

Through an affidavit sworn by Dr Reuben Nthambiri, the teachers’ employer said that it fully engaged the stakeholders including Kuppet and Knut in the development of modules and launch of the programme.

“Besides the fact that the training is founded in the law, it is good in improving the standards of professionalism of teachers, leading to better quality of education,” stated Dr Nthambiri.

The four institutions of higher learning also defended their appointment saying it followed due procedure.

Mount Kenya University, through an affidavit by Dr Christopher Mutembei, maintained that there was transparency and fairness in the process of tendering and eventual appointment as one of the institutions to offer the TPD training and related programmes.

Dr Mutembei faulted the petitioner for failing to point out any irregularities in the procurement process, or any violation of the law.

In his judgement, Justice Nderitu said there was no evidence of complaint from a bidder who failed to win the award.

Furthermore, Justice Nderitu said, there was no evidence on record from any teacher or a member of the teachers’ unions supporting the allegations made by the petitioner.

Burden of proof

“It’s not enough for a party to make an allegation and expect the court to automatically find it in his favour. A party in a case, unless otherwise provided for in law, bears the burden of proof,” the judge stated.

The court, however, advised the Education Cabinet Secretary, the TSC, the four institutions of higher learning and the teachers’ unions to work together to ensure the training is offered across the country to enable all the registered teachers to meaningfully benefit from it at a mitigated cost.