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TSC, unions wars come to a head at headteachers forum

By Harrison Kivisu
Thursday, December 5th, 2019
Knut deputy secretary general Hesbon Otieno (centre) with other Knut officials address the press. They have called upon the TSC chief executive officer Nancy Macharia to build bridges with teachers and unions after she failed to appear at the Kephsa conference in Mombasa. Photo/PD/BONFACE MSANGI
In summary

The bad blood between the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) and the Teachers Service Commission escalated   when the latter boycotted the primary schools headteachers’ conference in Mombasa.

The commission’s move at the week-long Kenya Primary Schools Head Teachers Association (Kepsha) meeting is said to have been brought about by last minute “sneaking in” of Knut secretary general Wilson Sossion into the programme. 

While addressing 7,500 teachers, Sossion demanded decentralisation of procurement and distribution of textbooks in public schools, a contradiction of the ongoing implementation of National Education Management Information System. 

Saying he had no problem with the conference despite having not been invited, Sossion said the union cannot be wished away. 

“We are here by right; we are demanding that the government comes to the table. We must be consulted in matters to do with teachers,” he said on Monday.

Uninvited bulldozer

The address allegedly angered TSC chairperson Lydia Nzomo and CEO Nancy Macharia who ordered officials at the meeting to leave immediately.

“There is no way Nzomo and Macharia could have come to address a gathering that had already been poisoned. Sossion had planted some teachers to heckle the two,” said a commission official who sought anonymity.

On Tuesday, TSC dismantled its exhibition tent at the Kenya School of Revenue Administration, the venue of the meeting, to protest inclusion of Knut.

TSC is alleged to have directed Kepsha not to invite both Knut and Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers. However, on Monday Sossion allegedly stormed the event and bulldozed his way into the programme.

High-level meeting

Kepsha chairman Nicholas Gathemia donated his time to the Knut secretary general to address the meeting.  

“Let me give my brother Sossion part of my time to address you,” he said in defiance of TSC’s directive. 

 Nzomo was expected to speak on the commission’s role in management of current education reforms and Macharia was to talk on teacher management.

However, both were a no-show and conference organisers claim they did not send apologies for their absence. Some headteachers expressed disappointment over the standoff between the two.

 “It’s so disappointing. They questioned why the chairman allowed Sossion to speak yet he was not on the programme. They told the chair he should have forced Sossion to leave the meeting since he was not invited,” said a Kepsha official.

Knut officials, led by deputy secretary general Hesbon Otieno yesterday said it was disappointing to see TSC officials snub a high-level meeting without any apologies, but said the union was still willing to engage the commission in talks. 

“We have no problem with TSC. We are ready to sit and talk on critical matters affecting the Competency-Based Curriculum. They have their reasons for boycotting the conference but it is prudent for any serious employer to listen to its workers,” said Otieno.

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