The days of 'ghost' teachers who reap where they never sowed could be numbered following the launch of a new biometric registration system that is intended to weed out rogue tutors.
The biometric database is also intended to help the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) address staff shortages as well as lock out those with questionable integrity from administering national exams.
The TSC yesterday launched the Biometric Enrolment and Validation of Teachers that will give a real-time data of all teachers employed by the commission.
The registration, which was launched at Nyeri High School, will capture details of all teachers in public primary and secondary schools, teacher training colleges, the Centre for Mathematics, Science and Technology in Africa and the Kenya Institute of Special Education.
Data on teachers in special programmes and curriculum support officers in all zones will be taken as well as teacher interns and those on contract.
"To effectively manage the growing teaching resource, we need to maintain an up-to-date data on all the teachers employed by the TSC and to achieve this, the commission has planned to conduct a biometric enrolment of all teachers," said Ibrahim Mumin, the TSC director of administration, when he delivered CEO Nancy Macharia's speech at the ceremony. He added that the system will improve service delivery within the commission.
Last duty stations
Teachers will be registered in their respective schools. Those who have been interdicted, suspended or are on leave will be expected to register at their last duty stations.
Mr Mumin said pre-loaded data from the TSC payroll system will be validated when the teachers provide physical documents. They will be required to provide a TSC certificate of registration, their national identity card, letter of first and last appointment together with their academic and professional certificates.
Teachers with disabilities will be required to provide a disability registration certificate, while those who have been released to other programmes like the teachers' unions will have to show their letters of release.
"The system will capture the data electronically using biometric kits where facial and finger prints will be collected," he said.
Ms Macharia, during release of the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examination results last week, said the biometric system will assist in curbing examination malpractices and getting the real culprits punished.
The biometric data captured will be used as forensic evidence for tracking teachers who tamper with examination materials, she said. It will also ensure more solid and accurate ways of seeing to it that innocent teachers are not punished.
Mr Mumin said the exercise will reveal teacher distribution based on subject combinations and unearth staffing gaps to inform training needs for affected subject areas. It will also be used to monitor daily attendance by teachers.
"We will forecast the growth in the years to come and advise the institutions that we work with to train more of what the shortages are than train in excess," he said.
Mr Isaac Kamau, the director of internal audit at the TSC, said the new system will digitise service delivery at the commission.
"We do not want to have teachers seeking services on paper. We want to get to a point where the teachers, in the comfort of their staff rooms or homes, are able to make an application for any services that they may require, and we can only achieve that if the data we have is accurate," he said.
In Uasin Gishu County, teachers turned out in large numbers at Union, Kiplombe and Eldoret Chebarus primary schools on the first day of the registration. Rift valley regional TSC director Adow Mohamed, who oversaw the exercise at Union Primary, said the exercise targets 16 learning centres and 218 teachers in the region in the pilot phase.
"We have had good turnout. This process will help in policy and decision-making and is not for any other purposes. It is a requirement to get up-to-date data of the teachers for planning," added Mr Adow.
The deputy director-in-charge of records management at the commission George Oketch assured teachers that the data collection and storage would be done in line with the Data Protection Act.
"This system will help the commission to establish when there is overstaffing -- the teachers can then be transferred to other schools with shortages," said the official.
In Bungoma, the TSC biometric registration was conducted at Bungoma DEB Primary School in Kanduyi Constituency and was led by county TSC director Adan Ibrahim. Bungoma DEB is the third-most-populous school in the country and is one of the 18 sample schools that have been selected for the exercise.
Mr Adan said Bungoma was the only county in the former western region's counties that was sampled for the exercise.
"We hope that the exercise will move on smoothly without any hitches since the enumerators and everything else is set," he said.
This pilot registration took off in 143 schools in seven counties that included Uasin Gishu, Homa Bay, Bungoma, Nyeri, Kitui and Garissa. It will continue up to the end of the week.
Reporting by Reginah Kinogu, Stanley Kimuge and Brian Ojamaa