Alcohol

TSC has urged heads of institutions, other teachers and spouses to help in offering psychosocial support to the affected. 

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One for the road? TSC offers sobering guidelines for alcoholics

What you need to know:

  • Alcoholism has been blamed for teacher absenteeism, with many having lost their jobs.
  • Teachers with drug and alcohol problems get sick leave only twice during their employment.

The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) has read the riot act for tutors who love their tipple and issued guidelines to tame chronic alcoholism.

It has outlined steps on how to tackle the problem, including sending affected teachers to rehabilitation centres. 

Alcoholism has been blamed for absenteeism, especially among male teachers, with many having lost their jobs over the years.

While the commission has not provided data on those affected, flagging the vice is indicative of the extent of the problem. 

“Alcohol abuse is associated with social, economic, psychological and physical challenges on the individual, family and the community. We recognise that some of our teachers are or have fallen victims to alcoholism leading to, among other issues, absence from work,” TSC states in its monthly newsletter, Mwalimu News. 

The commission has urged heads of institutions, other teachers and spouses to help in offering psychosocial support to the affected. 

Teachers who get admitted to rehabilitation facilities will be granted a 90-day leave to go through the programme, but there’s a long process before that happens.

Drug and alcohol problems

“Once the immediate supervisor identifies a teacher who has an alcohol or drug-related problem, they should refer them to the sub-county or county director, who in turn should refer the patient to the wellness section at the TSC headquarters,” the guidelines state.

“The wellness officer will ask the teacher to bring a next of kin to help in the assessment of the case, before referring the victim to a rehabilitation or psychiatric facility.”

The teacher should then apply for sick leave through their respective county directors and attach the referral by the wellness officer and the admission letter from the facility. 

“Often, a teacher is discharged after the 90 days, after which, they should report to TSC wellness section with a discharge summary and a certificate from the facility for a recommendation to be posted to a school.”

Teachers who have drug and alcohol problems can be granted the sick leave only twice during their employment term. This means that those who do not reform stand a great risk of interdiction and deregistration from the teachers’ roll. 

TSC periodically gazettes the names of teachers who are deregistered for various offences after going through a disciplinary process at the commission. This year, close to 100 teachers have been dismissed. 

Other reasons for deregistration include death, fraudulent registration, conviction on sexual offences or an offence against a learner, criminal offence conviction or physical or mental illness, which renders one incapable of performing the duties of a teacher.

Alcoholism among teachers

Deregistration is costly because it prohibits one from teaching in either public or private schools.  

Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) secretary-general, Mr Collins Oyuu, however, said cases of alcoholism have reduced. Union representatives in schools often defend teachers before they are interdicted.

“Alcoholism is now controlled. There was a time it was a serious issue. Some teachers were notorious to the level of making noise at market centres. They are now polished,” he said.

He said the reported cases are isolated and urged teachers to drink responsibly. Some teachers acknowledged that there is increased alcoholism and attributed it to work-related stress and other socio-economic factors.

“There is alcoholism among teachers and many cases of unattended lessons. Many are heavily indebted and some listed with credit reference bureaus. The draconian policies by TSC and tough rules for career progression just add to the hopelessness and depression,” a teacher told the Nation. 

TSC has tasked heads of schools with the duty of helping teachers with drug and alcohol problems. It also warned other teachers against condemning and profiling their colleagues or covering for them when absent by attending their lessons. 

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