Kenya: Petition Filed in Court Challenging TSC's Mandatory Courses for Teachers

28 September 2021

Nairobi — The newly unveiled Teachers Professional Development programme (TPD) has suffered a major blow after an education consultant Joseph Ngethe Karanja moved to court to challenge it.

Karanja filed a petition in court Monday seeking orders to stop the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) from rolling out the programme citing lack of public participation as provided under Article 232 of the Constitution.

The petitioner urged the court to declare the mandatory teachers programme null and void for violating provisions of the supreme law.

"A declaration that the 1st respondent's (TSC) directives requiring compulsory Teachers Professional Development programme (TPD) module is illegal and unconstitutional, an affront to teachers fair labor practices and therefore null and void," read the petition.

On September 22, TSC rolled out the TPD programme, a new module that will see public school teachers renew their professional certificates after every five years.

The petitioner argues that the TSC imposed the programme by inculcating it in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and in doing so failed to undertake the requisite public participation.

At the same time, the petitioner has raised issues with the move by TSC to hinge the promotion of teachers on the mandatory professional courses and introducing further educational requirements for their continued employment despite having attained the requisite educational requirement.

Karanja contends that the TPD programme is in violation of Article 41 of the constitution of Kenya which encompasses fair labor practices for workers.

"Seeking to impose a compulsory teacher that shall run for 30 days yet numerous teachers are quite old and cannot compete in the aforesaid training while still in service thus excluding them from any further promotion," the 13-paged petition read.

The petitioner has also sued Kenyatta University, Riara University, Mount Kenya University and the Kenya Education Management Institute (KEMI) that were picked by Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to train the teachers.

The Education Consultant raised issues with the process of tendering process of awarding the four higher learning institutions to implement the training programme.

"Arbitrarily appointing the 4th to 8th respondents as the sole providers in teachers training under Teachers Professional Development Programme (TPD) and without engaging in open and transparent training programme as required by the law," the court papers read.

The petitioner is also opposed to the move to have teachers' pay for the in-service training saying that the TSC should shoulder the cost.

Speaking during the launch of the training programme, TSC Chief Executive Nancy Macharia said the TPD is a life-long learning programme organized in six-tiered competency levels where each level takes five years to complete.

This means that for an entire teaching career, each teacher will be required to take a total of five modules within a span of 30 years, translating to about Sh180,000.

In 2019, a Labour court halted the implementation of professional development training programmes that would determine the promotion of teachers.

The court ruled that the TPD programme was not valid for implementation as there was no regulation promulgated by TSC to guide the programmes.

And in 2016, the Commission introduced Performance Contracting for Heads of Institutions and Teacher Performance Appraisal and Development (TPAD) for teachers, with an aim of strengthening curriculum implementation and accountability in the utilization of resources in order to improve learning outcomes.

Teacher unions had earlier on urged the employer to recall the performance appraisal tools, claiming that the exercise had created anxiety among teachers.

There were also concerns that the tool could be used to victimize teachers when seeking promotion and unfairly blame them for poor results.

Macharia however, noted that since the implementation of TPAD, the quality of education had improved.

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