A teachers’ union in Taita-Taveta County has expressed outrage over the proposal by Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to introduce mandatory refresher courses for teachers after every five years as part of a capacity-building initiative.
Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) officials termed the move by TSC as fraudulent and motivated by the need to make money rather than desire to empower teachers.
Speaking on Monday in Voi town, the Executive Secretary of the union in the region Mr. Shedrack Mutungi said teachers would oppose that move which had no basis in law.
Mutungi said that the mandatory refresher courses had not undergone any public participation with the teachers as required by the Constitution. He added that the cost of any refresher course was always borne by the employer.
“This is a fraudulent financial move by TSC. They are only interested in making money from teachers and this proposal will be opposed in its entirety,” he said.
TSC unveiled Teachers Professional Development (TPD); a mandatory retraining programme for teachers in public schools that would see educators renew their professional certificates after every five years.
TSC boss Dr. Nancy Macharia said the move was in line with teaching objectives and that the retraining would enhance teachers’ capacities including allowing them to keep abreast of emerging trends in academic fields.
TPD has been cited as a core pillar to further professionalize the profession under the TSC’s Teachers Career Progression Guidelines of 2018. Teachers will undergo a six-module training programme with each module taking a period of five years. For every module, a teacher will pay Sh6,000.
Already, universities including Kenyatta, Mount Kenya and Riara have been accredited to carry out the retraining program.
However, the union officials say the programme is punitive in nature. They also termed it as exploitative and ill-conceived as it had failed to take into consideration the ages and social welfare of teachers.
Nyambuto Edwin, an official, said it was unthinkable that teachers who were almost retiring would be forced to pay money to undergo training.
He stated that teachers had taken it upon themselves to upgrade their professional skills and most had gone back to school for higher learning.
“We have teachers with Masters and others with PhD. We have been adding to our skills all along but TSC wants us to take some courses that are of lesser value than what we already have,” he said.
He further demanded an apology from their employer for terming teachers as semi-professionals.
“We are properly trained and fully certified professionals. Calling us semi-trained is an affront to our skills,” he said.
The union’s gender secretary Ms. Halima Abdalla argued that TSC had failed to take into consideration the family aspect of the teaching profession. She warned that taking teachers back to school after five years would lead to family disintegration.
“With teaching and us going back to school, there will be little time dedicated for family. We are staring at the erosion of family values and institutions,” she said.
However, parents in the region have thrown their weight behind TSC over the move to have teachers get more training.
County Chair of Parents Association Mr. Elias Mberi termed the tiff between the two parties as regrettable. He noted that teachers needed to be abreast of all emerging issues. He added that the world was being transformed rapidly and teachers had the onus of explaining to the learners the changes in various sectors.
He further pointed out that though skills development was largely a personal choice, there was a need for teachers to be extremely knowledgeable on current trends that would make them to competently explain emerging issues.
“Adding to one’s skills is a personal choice but there is a need for teachers to be updated on the latest happenings. An informed teacher is an empowered teacher,” he said.