Knut opposes demotion of non-graduate primary school headteachers

Kenya Primary Schools Head Teachers Association

Delegates follow proceedings during the 18th Kenya Primary Schools Head Teachers Association conference at Sheikh Zayed Hall in Mombasa on December 6, 2022.

Photo credit: Kevin Odit | Nation Media Group

The Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) has opposed the proposal by the Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms (PWPER) to demote non-graduate primary school headteachers, describing it as “one of the worst” labour practices.

According to the proposal, headteachers of primary schools hosting junior secondary schools (JSS) will lead them for an interim period that will end on December 31. However, Knut has called for more time for non-graduate primary school headteachers to complete their degrees.

“Knut supports the PWPER’s radical reforms, which are yet to be promulgated by President William Ruto to make them official. But on this issue of demoting principals, we oppose the move,” said Knut Secretary-General Collins Oyuu.

Speaking during a Knut Coast Regional Council meeting at Ronald Ngala Primary School in Mombasa, Mr Oyuu said 99 per cent of Kenyan headteachers were university graduates.

“If anyone thinks that primary school headteachers are not graduates, they are wrong. But if there is a teacher who is not a graduate and he or she is a headteacher and maybe the changes want to propose that they be demoted, that is one of the worst labour practices that we will not allow,” he said.

Mr Oyuu said Knut would insist that non-graduate headteachers continue their training to obtain the higher qualification. He added that Knut would support non-graduate head teachers and present their proposals to the working group.

PWPER is proposing the creation of comprehensive schools, bringing together pre-primary, primary and JSS in the same compound under a single head teacher. The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) and the Education ministry will be mandated to come up with guidelines for senior teachers who will work under the head teacher.

In the proposal, head teachers who are not qualified to head comprehensive schools are expected to be given lesser roles.

“We are in favour of the idea that we have comprehensive schools so that we have one head of the institution without a lot of confusion,” said Mr Oyuu.

At the same time, Knut wants TSC to take over the remuneration of early childhood development and education (ECDE) teachers.

“... now that the PWPER has made a very clear proposal that ECDE teachers should be paid by TSC, it follows that TSC should employ ECDE teachers, which is a plus for quality assurance,” Mr Oyuu said.