End TSC, Knut rivalry for smooth learning
Thursday, February 20th, 2020
The bad blood between the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) and Teachers Service Commission (TSC) is increasingly becoming disruptive to the country’s education sector.
And the upshot of the never-ending tussles is the frequent strike threats by the teachers union, which has purposed not to see any good in most education initiatives. T
he reverse is also true. The two organisations that ideally should complement each other in the education sector, have to place the interests of the learners and teachers at the centre of their programmes.
Unfortunately, they forget that their mandates are not about the institutions or their leadership.
The latest in this toxic engagement that appears to be largely ego-driven played out on Tuesday when the Wilson Sossion-led Knut dismissed as “illegal” a proposed skills improvement training introduced by TSC. And to cap its complaint, the union threatened a strike.
The teachers’ employer has suggested that teachers undergo the training, dubbed Teacher Professional Development Modules (TPD). The commission signed the deal with four educational institutions that will undertake the training from April 2020. It has stipulated that teachers pay a Sh6,000 professional development fee to cover all the training sessions, evaluation, monitoring and assessment costs of the more than 472,000 teachers in public and private schools.
But the union has rejected the plan, saying it reeks of malice because of alleged lack of proper consultation over the compulsory exercise. Knut has even implored Labour Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui and his Education counterpart George Magoha to convene a meeting to address the matter within seven days, failure to which, teachers will go on strike.
On the other hand, the teachers employer should consult a little wider and not be seen as an edict-issuing institution. Why, for instance, would TSC charge teachers Sh6,000 for the training without considering the financial implications on the tutors?
Knut, too, must eschew its old-style belligerent union activism to allow for constructive engagement and dialogue. The strike threats must cease.
It is easier to solve disputes in boardrooms than in the disruptive strike threats and costly court processes. Is this too much to ask of them for the sake of teachers, parents and learners, who are hapless victims of the frequent and needless fights?
Going forward, the two institutions should be accommodative to each other to ensure smooth learning.