Keep off teacher recruitment, Ruto tells politicians

President Ruto in Baringo

President William Ruto addresses residents during the Annual Kimalel Goat Auction in Baringo County yesterday. Looking on are Baringo Governor Benjamin Cheboi (centre) and his Nakuru counterpart Susan Kihika.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

President William Ruto has told members of Parliament to keep off the ongoing teacher recruitment to allow the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to carry out its work professionally.

However,Dr Ruto agreed with MPs that the application deadline be extended and that TSC should be allowed to staff schools that will have junior secondary school (JSS) when they open next month.

Some MPs have been accused of mobilising unemployed teachers from their constituencies to lock out others viewed as outsiders since TSC advertised more than 35,000 vacancies this month.

“I want to ask politicians and other leaders to give us an opportunity to address the challenge that we have in our education sector. Let’s not introduce too many diversions. Allow the TSC and the ministry to work on the statistics to make sure that we have at least one teacher in every JSS class,” the President said at the Kimalel Annual Goat Auction in Baringo County.

“Education is very important. Many parents are anxious and they want their children to progress with learning. We’re doing reforms during a tricky period. We must agree to have a transition that’ll not bring problems to parents,” he added.

Dr Ruto said the government had made plans for all learners who were in Grade Six to transition to JSS within the primary schools they attended so that they are not far from their parents. This, he said will make education affordable for the parents.

He said extra classrooms and laboratories would be built in every primary school.

“I can only allow the extension of the exercise but not political leaders interfering with process. Our children are too important for leaders politicise the exercise,” said the Head of State. He noted that the state was banking on recruitment of 35,000 new teachers to support in the transition of Grade Six to junior secondary next year and address the shortage of teachers.

"The reason we are recruiting new teachers is because we want every school to have at least one teacher in junior secondary to support 100 per cent transition," explained Dr Ruto.

He also directed reopening of schools in banditry-prone areas in in Baringo County by January as the government intensifies a crackdown on suspects behind the insecurity.

President Ruto directed Rift Valley Regional Commissioner Maalim Mohammed to ensure the eight schools in Baringo North and Baringo South constituencies are reopened.

“We will not allow the schools to remain closed because we shall be losing a whole generation. I have asked regional commissioner to use all means to ensure that the closed schools are re-opened next month," said Dr Ruto.

Meanwhile, the TSC yesterday advertised 14,738 positions for promotion of teachers to administrative positions just days after members of Parliament castigated the commission for failing to promote teachers.

Most of the positions will go to primary schools, where there are 7,720 vacancies for Deputy Headteacher II and 2,733 for headteachers. The highest number for vacancies in secondary schools is 1,330 for Secondary Teacher I.

The Nation understands that the vacancies have arisen from retirements, resignations or deaths and in some cases, there have been teachers in acting capacity.

The national chair of the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers Omboko Milemba estimates that teachers in acting capacity are owed Sh1 billion by the government in unpaid compensation.

“This is a pending bill that’s not qualified. This is exploitation of labour by the TSC and the government. I’ve put a question in Parliament but I’m doing research with my office staff to back the numbers up. It’s become impossible to be promoted unless you’re in administration,” Mr Milemba, who is also the MP for Emuhaya Constituency, said in a past interview with the Nation.

There are 602 vacancies for secondary school principals, 725 for Deputy Principal II and 224 for Deputy Principal III. The commission has also invited applications for 73 Chief Principal applications.

There are additional vacancies for 1,021administrators in arid and semi-arid, as well as hard-to-staff areas.

TSC commissioners appeared before the Education Committee of the National Assembly last week and this week and were hard-pressed to explain why they have not been promoting teachers.

“The commission has not been granted additional budgetary allocations for the promotion of teachers for the past 10 years except in July 2017 ...,” said Ms Nancy Macharia, the TSC chief executive, explaining that promotion was consequently based on vacancies from natural attrition.