Kenya: How TSC Plans to Effect Gender Balance in Schools

Deputy heads of mixed schools who are of the same sex with the principal will be transferred and replaced with those of the opposite gender from next month.

The decision is intended to create a gender-inclusive learning environment in the co-education institutions and to cater for the interests of every learner, Teachers Service Commission (TSC) says in a March 15 circular signed by chief executive Nancy Macharia.

Public schools, teacher training colleges and public technical and vocational education and training institutions are usually staffed by the TSC.

"The policy of the commission is to appoint and deploy administrators of applicable gender to head and deputise learning institutions," Ms Macharia said.

"However, it has come to the attention of the commission that some mixed schools or institutions have heads and deputies of the same gender. This scenario neither fosters a gender-inclusive learning environment nor provides a supportive atmosphere for learners."

The circular addressed to regional heads instructs them to ask county directors to identify mixed schools and other learning institutions where the head and deputy are of the same gender "and place the deputies appropriately after the forthcoming national examinations".

The Kenya Certificate of Primary Education and Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education tests begin next week.

Mass transfers

Some TSC sources say the move will not result in mass transfers as it does not anticipate a huge number of institutions to be affected.

"The lists of heads and deputies before and after the placement should be submitted to the commission via email on or before April 30," the circular goes on.

Meanwhile, today is the last day of service for five commissioners at TSC following the end of their tenure, leaving only two who were appointed last year.

Mr Mbarak Twahir, who has been acting chairperson since Ms Lydia Nzomo's retirement in November, leaves alongside Mr Kinoti Imanyara, Mr Tache Bonsa Gollo, Ms Beatrice Marembo Adu and Mr Albert Fred Ekirapa.

They were appointed on March 20, 2015 to serve in the first independent commission established by the 2010 Constitution.

Commissioners Cleophas Tirop, Salome Gichura and Saadia Kotoma retired in 2019.

The two remaining commissioners are Mbage Njuguna Ng'ang'a and Ms Leila Abi Ali, who joined the TSC on May 4, 2020.

The commission has advertised applications for the post of chairperson.

TSC commissioners

"When I reflect back, the staggered tenure of office for the chairperson and different members of the board turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the commission as it enables continuity of the board and the institutional memory of the organisation," Dr Nzomo said early this month at a dinner hosted in the commissioners' honour.

The team also presented its exit report at the event.

The outgoing board negotiated with teachers' unions the first and biggest collective bargaining agreement of Sh54 billion.

However, the agreement faced problems when TSC introduced career progression guidelines as management tools for tutors, a decision that was opposed by the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut).

This has led to numerous cases and countersuits after the commission left Knut members out of the pay benefits.

Consequently, tens of thousands of teachers left Knut. Its membership has shrunk from more than 187,000 in June 2019 to just 17,000.

The once giant union now struggles to pay its staff and has shut some of its branches as the dues it receives from TSC continue to dwindle.

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