The Teachers Service Commission has suffered a blow in its push to carry out quality assurance in schools.
In an advisory opinion to TSC chief executive Nancy Macharia dated November 26, Attorney-General Kihara Kariuki highlighted the functions of the commission, noting that they do not include quality assurance.
Mr Kariuki said the Constitution gives the TSC powers to register trained teachers, recruit and employ registered teachers, deploy teachers to any public school or institution and to promote and transfer teachers.
The TSC is also mandated to review the standard of education and training of people entering the teaching service, review the demand and supply of teachers and advise the national government on matters relating to the teaching profession.
Despite an earlier advisory that the TSC has no role in quality assurance of education in schools, the commission went ahead and recruited staff in the directorate and designated them as curriculum support officers.
In May, the TSC appointed Mr Reuben Mugwuku as the director of the quality assurance and standards directorate.
The Education ministry has a directorate of quality assurance and standards, headed by Mr Pius Mutisya, with similar functions.
In 2014, in a letter dated September 10 to then Attorney-General Githu Muigai, the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution then chaired by Mr Charles Nyachae said the TSC should not be involved in quality assurance.
"TSC may only check on a teacher's quality status as part of its research to inform what needs to be done to improve teachers' standards through training," said the advisory by Mr Nyachae.
In the latest advisory, AG Kariuki notes: "The current constitutional and statutory framework is clearly a departure from the past. The Constitution itself clothes the commission in the garb of independence by declaring that the commission shall not be subject to the direction or control of any person or authority."
Meanwhile, the cold war between the Education ministry and the TSC is set to intensify following the new advisory.
The TSC kept the CS in the dark while seeking the advisory opinion from the government's chief legal adviser and instead only copied the letter to Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua and the chairman of the National Assembly's Education committee, Mr Julius Melly.
However, while responding to the letter, Mr Kariuki copied in Education CS Amina Mohamed.
Meanwhile, the fate of close to 2,000 students who joined teacher training colleges in October with lower grades will be decided at a crisis meeting later this month.
The Education ministry is planning to hold talks with the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) and the Kenya National Qualification Authority to resolve the issue after Attorney-General Kihara Kariuki stopped Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed from lowering the college entry grades.
The students and their parents had already paid close to Sh70,000 each as fees, but the TSC has insisted that it will not hire such students after their graduation.
The TSC, while seeking legal advice from Mr Kariuki, asked him to instruct Ms Mohamed to revoke the directive that she gave to the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service on the admission of the students.
In October, Ms Mohamed directed that primary teachers training colleges admit students from a mean grade of D+ in 2018 and revert to C- from next year, when the colleges start offering diploma courses in primary education.
AG Kariuki asked the stakeholders involved in the dispute to use the available mechanisms for consultation and collaboration to resolve it in a lawful manner.
The entry grade was lowered for students from 17 marginalised counties during the second selection.
The Education ministry went ahead with the placement of the students despite the National Assembly's Education committee demanding a policy paper on the new guidelines before they are implemented.