Mariakani Primary School

Pauline Musyoka a teacher at Mariakani Primary School in Nairobi shows Grade 3 pupils how to use a tablet during an e-learning lesson on September 8, 2021.

| Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

Jobless teachers now scramble for internships they shunned

What you need to know:

  • Unemployed teachers are locked in stiff competition for 1,038 vacancies.
  • TSC has made internships the only route to permanent employment.

Hundreds of thousands of jobless teachers are now scrambling for limited internship openings as their employer, the Teachers Service Commission (TSC), makes it the only sure route to clinching permanent jobs.

The unemployed teachers are locked in stiff competition for the 1,038 internship vacancies available in primary schools and 957 for secondary schools when interviews are called in the latest recruitment drive. The application window closed on Monday last week, and TSC officials in the counties are currently compiling the merit lists that will be used for shortlisting interviewees.

TSC regional directors are expected to send system-generated lists of applicants to TSC headquarters by Monday, October 18 2021. Contracts for serving interns were also extended for one more year. 

“It is only after clearance at the headquarters and vetting at the county level that the applicants will be called upon to sign the internship agreement and be issued with the offer of internship letter,” reads a circular signed by TSC director of staffing, Rita Wahome.

Reliable sources indicated that the number of applications is “huge”, even though the Nation could not immediately establish the number of letters received as the process is yet to be finalized. There are more than 300,000 trained but jobless teachers in the country, while the shortfall of tutors is estimated at about 100,000.

The high interest in the internship programme contrasts sharply from the first time it was introduced in 2019 to onboard 10,000 jobless teachers, when majority of them gave it a wide berth. This was mostly because of the miserly monthly stipend of Sh10,000 and Sh15,000 for interns in primary and secondary schools respectively. 

Jobless graduates

The amount has since been increased to Sh15,000 and Sh20,000. However, the main attraction for jobless graduates is the 30 per cent automatic marks that interns are awarded during recruitment for permanent employment. The internship programme was introduced in order to address the severe teacher shortage in schools.

“I graduated with a diploma in Education in 2014 but I’ve not secured a permanent job to date despite previously having taught in private schools. I have unsuccessfully applied for the internship in the past but I hope to be enrolled this time around,” said Felisters Njoki, from Embu County.  

The interns recruited will report to schools in January, when they open for third term. TSC has been employing 5,000 teachers every year but this has not eased the shortage following the implementation of the 100 per cent transition from primary to secondary school. 

According to the scoring sheet for the interns, the TSC will award marks based on the quality of their degrees or certificates and also the length of stay without employment since graduation. 

Those who graduated in 2015 and before will get the highest marks (60 per cent) while 2020 and later graduates will get 35 per cent of the score. 

For academic qualifications, a first class honours degree in Bachelor of Education will be awarded the highest mark at 35 per cent. The same will be scored for those with a first class degree in arts or science with a post-graduate diploma in Education. A second class honours degree will get the holder 30 per cent while a pass in both a degree and a diploma will have the lowest score at 25 per cent.

Recruitment of teachers

However, some school heads have complained that the scoring sheets used in the recruitment of teachers leaves out many top applicants either because they graduated recently or are not interns. 

“At times you’re forced to pick a teacher who has not taught for years simply because their year of graduation favours them. TSC should consider other aspects like a teacher’s commitment and ability to teach,” said a school principal who requested anonymity. 

She faulted Section C of the score guide which allows for a maximum of five per cent for communication ability, evidence of participation in co-curricular activities, students' academic performance and acknowledgement of special talents. 

There was uproar in July during recruitment for permanent jobs when TSC raised the marks awarded to applicants who show proof of internship from 10 to 30 per cent. 

The secretary-general of the Kenya Union of Post Primary Teachers (Kuppet), Akelo Misori, defended the awarding of higher marks to interns saying they deserve the reward for their sacrifice.

“Although several issues have been raised over the advantage the intern teachers receive, you cannot compare them with someone who has refused to apply for internship to continue working in other places,” he said.

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