Revolt in teacher unions as branches oppose Teacher Development Programme

Collins Oyuu

Kuppet secretary-general Akello Misori (left) with his Knut counterpart Collins Oyuu during the Teacher Professional Development (TPD) programme roll-out in Nairobi on September 22. 

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

Teachers’ unions are facing revolt from their members who are protesting against the recently rolled out Teacher Development Programme (TPD), which will require them to be retrained and renew their licences every five years.

By yesterday, Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) branch secretaries from over 15 counties had written protest letters to secretary-general Akelo Misori, accusing him of ignoring teachers’ views and signing the agreement with the Teachers Service Commission (TSC). Branch secretaries from Kericho, Migori, Vihiga Taita Taveta,Narok , Kisii, Laikipia, Uasin Gishu, Samburu, Meru and Makueni, among others, have asked Mr Misori to invite them for a stakeholders meeting to discuss the matter.

Teachers in Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) and the Kenya Union of Special Needs Education Teachers (Kusnet) also took to social media to protest the roll out of the programme.

But taking the most heat most is Kuppet’s top leadership, with members demanding that TSC shares the cost burden for the training.

Kuppet national council of branch chairpersons head Henri Otunga said the council totally rejects the planned programme in its current design.

Capacity building

“An employer who chooses to make capacity building for her members compulsory must do that in line with best labour practices by ensuring that the total cost that go with such a policy are shouldered by the employer,” said Mr Otunga. He added that the move by the National Executive Board (NEB) to endorse the programme is setting up the branch executive councils against members.

“It is therefore the position of The National Council of Branch Chairpersons that The National Executive Board rescinds their earlier position on the planned programme and re-engage the TSC with a view to allow for more consultations on this matter,” he said.

Speaking to the Sunday Nation, Kuppet national chairman Omboko Milemba said: “I ask our branch secretaries to cool down because as their top officials we did not sign any consent for teachers to enrol and undertake the TPD,” said Mr Milemba. He said Mr Misori’s presence at the TSC during the programme’s roll out on Monday was just the “honouring” of an invitation.

“We are looking forward to call for a national executive council to take views from our members, as Kuppet, we have not consented the TPD,” said Mr Milemba.

Knut secretary general Collins Oyuu and his Kusnet counterpart James Torome welcomed the programme. The Kenya Primary Schools Heads Association and Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association (Kessha) also supported the TPD roll out.

Samburu Kuppet branch secretary William Lengoyiap said the planned retraining is an insult and a mockery to the institutions that trained teachers.

“We reject in totality a programme that touches on teachers’ finances, which the proponents of TPD do not want to acknowledge,” said Mr Lengoyiap. His Baringo counterpart Zacharia Nyomboi said leaders should not focus on lining their pockets and using their positions to vie for political office at the expense of education in Kenya.

“Baringo teachers and its leadership reject the TPD training until further consultations are made regarding the mode of training and proper guidelines on funding are spelt out clearly,’’ he said

Mr Moses Bora, the Nairobi branch secretary, said the programme was not well thought out. He called on members of Parliament to petition the TSC to pay for any teacher professional development. Further, he said MPs should strip TSC of regulatory powers and only leave it with employer powers.

Vihiga branch secretary Sabala Inyeni said Kuppet members should not be penalised for not undertaking the modules. His Uasin Gishu counterpart Elijah Kimeli Maiyo, on his part, said the modules should be collapsed to 10 years.

Noting the duration of the training is indefinite, Laikipia branch secretary Robert Maino said this could end up being stressful to teachers and fail to achieve its intended objectives.

“We request the employer to work with all training institutions and have the TPD enjoined with the teacher training course for continuing students,” said Mr Maino.

Kericho branch secretary Mary Rotich said teachers in the county were opposed to the TPD.

Consultative meetings

“We totally oppose the recertification move for teachers since the programme is a near eternal thing – 30 years – simply saying it doesn’t have an end. Teachers at the verge of retirement shall not realise the fruits and the younger ones in the profession are not enthusiastic to about it,” said Ms Rotich.

Stating that the training was not an emergency, Taita Taveta branch secretary Shedrack Mutungi demanded that TSC withdraws it and holds consultative meetings with relevant stakeholders.

Migori’s Orwa Jasolo said no form of training can be compulsory to all employees, including those about to retire.

“The union has neglected the views of the teachers on this matter and has proceeded against the interest of its membership to endorse the training without putting into consideration the plight of its members,” said Mr Jasolo.

The Elgeyo Marakwet branch secretary Paul Biwott accused the union’s top leadership of ignoring teachers’ views just as they did when they signed a non-monetary Collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

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