Kenya: Win-Win for Teachers, TSC As Court Stops Strike and Transfers

Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed during a press conference on the reopening of schools and the new curriculum, January 2, 2019.
3 January 2019

Schools reopen today after two weeks of anxiety caused by a strike notice called by the main teachers' union and uncertainties over the rollout of a new curriculum.

The Employment and Labour Relations Court yesterday ordered teachers to report to class today in a carefully crafted order by Justice Byram Ongaya that sought to placate both parties.

Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) Secretary-General Wilson Sossion, who had earlier vowed to press on with the strike, said they would abide by the court's ruling.

"We are happy with the court's ruling; we will instead go back to the conciliation meeting with Teacher Service Commission (TSC) as ordered by the court," Mr Sossion said.

While ordering TSC and Knut back to the negotiating table, Justice Ongaya suspended the transfer of some 85 union officials as well as a professional development matrix that TSC had developed allegedly without consulting teachers.


The union had called out its members to a strike to protest mass transfer of headteachers and deputies, delayed promotion of qualified teachers and imposition of a performance tool they did not agree with it.

As part of response to those concerns, the court asked Knut to prepare a list of the teachers who had attained higher qualifications and deserved to be promoted.

The court also tasked it to prepare a list of appeals filed by headteachers and their deputies on transfers for consideration by the TSC.

Headteachers and deputies were among the 3,094 workers moved in December, sparking the strike notice.

The other uncertainty on readiness for rollout of the Competency-Based Curriculum remains, even as Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed said it will start today.


Ms Mohamed yesterday met the ministry's top officials, county education directors and other field officers and issued directives on implementation of the new curriculum, stating, it was all systems go, despite the concerns raised by various stakeholders.

The new curriculum will be implemented in pre-school and grades One to Three. The syllabus segmented into 2-6-3-3 years will replace the 8-4-4 system that has served since 1985.

The rollout comes against a backdrop of divisions among education players and stakeholders.

Knut has rejected it on the grounds that the teachers have not been trained.

County governments, which are responsible for pre-school education, have also opposed it, stating that they do not have funds as well as teaching staff and learning resources to implement the syllabus.


Activist Okiya Omtatah had also gone to court to challenge the implementation of the new curriculum, arguing that it was being done without legal instruments, including a policy framework and no public participation.

But the court directed that the petition be served to all parties and that direction will be given on the matter on February 18.

Elsewhere, Migori Woman Representative Pamela Odhiambo said more work is needed to be done before the rollout.

"I know of schools where children are learning under trees. I know many of the schools in the rural areas are not ready with the equipment and materials required," she said in Nairobi.

Yesterday, most bookshops in Nairobi were full as parents bought stationery for their children.


At Savanis Bookshop, scores of parents thronged the pre-primary and grade one to three sections to buy the new syllabus books.

Sales executive Justus Moyi, said sales for the new syllabus books has gone up.

Meanwhile, parents in Homa Bay continued to do last minute preparations to take their children back to school.

Reports by Faith Nyamai, Sam Kiplagat, David Mwere, Agewa Magut, Ruth Mbula, Derick Luvega, George Odiwuor and Lilys Njeru

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