Kenyan MPs want teachers to sign performance contracts
Published: 14/05/2012 Article Author: KigaliKonnect.com Staff
Teachers may soon sign performance contracts or miss out on annual increments, something they have been resisting through their unions.
The renewed pressure piling on teachers to yield to individual monitoring of performance comes from Parliament, and it is anticipated a showdown looms between the Legislature and the educators.
This comes against the backdrop of the Teachers Service Commission’s (TSC’s) new requirement that teachers have to take up an extra lesson everyday as it also seeks to extend classroom hours and lessons.
The House Parliamentary Committee on Education, Science and Technology insisted it was time teachers embraced performance contracting just like all other civil servants. The committee instructed TSC to immediately put in place measures that would see top performers awarded and lazy ones “taken care of.”
Said committee chairman Mr David Koech: “Under the new constitution it is expected that performance of all Kenyans across the board be improved. What we are demanding is performance of every teacher to be followed just like in any other department in the
Republic of Kenya today.”
Previous efforts by TSC to introduce the management-monitoring tool flopped after resistance by teachers’ unions and associations.
But in its strongest statement on teacher performance towards quality education, the House now demands that no teacher be awarded annual salary increments, or even promoted, without proper demonstration of quality service.
This also comes as the teachers’ employer said it is already rolling out a new appraisal system that will see all non-performing head teachers demoted immediately.
TSC director of staffing Ms Nancy Macharia explained the system is based on specific targets for each schoo,l upon which performance of school heads would be based.
Reacting to the new development on Sunday, Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) and the giant Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) warned they would resist any attempt to implement ‘unpopular’ policies in the name of enhancing quality of education.
The renewed pressure by MPs came to the fore last week, when TSC secretary Mr Gabriel Lengoiboni appeared before the House Committee.
Koech, who is also the Mosop MP, said TSC became a constitutional commission to address teacher’s issues more directly in a better, sober and quick manner, and tasked the Commission’s secretary to explain why teachers were still not bound by the performance contract.
Lengoibini explained TSC was in the process of revising all its policies and subsidiary legislations in preparation to implement the contracts.
He said teachers were not exempted from signing performance contracts because even the teachers and technical training colleges already have these contracts in place.
“With this we will be able to trace the individual performance of all the teachers. So a teacher who will not have met his targets will not be given a salary increment or promotion,” he said.
Some Sh2.23 billion has already been allocated to TSC towards automatic annual salary increments. The new push is expected to spark mixed reactions as teachers have since 2008 vehemently opposed performance contracts, arguing they were hired on permanent terms and that signing the contracts would change their employment status.
Kuppet national chairman Mr Amboko Milemba said teachers were already on contract by way of schemes of service and lesson plans.
“We will not sign any contract again,” he declared.
Milemba revealed the union had already petitioned the House Committee to delete the ‘sneaked’ clause in the Education Bill vouching for performance contracting.
Knut chairman Mr Wilson Sossion said the union would only support policies they were involved in formulating.
“We must be involved from the start. We will obviously not accept introduction of any policy through the back door. And they know that we always resist what is not in the good interest of teachers,” he said.
But in a move to address teachers’ fear over performance contracts Lengoiboni assured no teacher would be sacked. “All we want is to empower teachers to work even harder in their areas,” he said.
Koech also explained the House does not wish to propose sackings, but argued that by working hard, teachers can be rewarded.
Lengoiboni added that the Commission is discussing methods of measuring teachers’ performance with their unions. Experts argue that teachers and schools already set targets to cover the syllabus and improve examination results.
They say performance contracting would only formalise the process, because teachers also prepare schemes of work and lesson plans as an indication of goals.
Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (KESSHA) chairman Cleopas Tirop said secondary school heads were ready to sign the contracts but asked for “seriousness in school management.”
“We want TSC to take management seriously. Let them come up with a proper framework for head teachers as managers. Teachers must be trained on management,” he argued.
Tirop challenged their employer to introduce responsibility allowances and set up proper benchmarks for promotion.
“We are ready. Let them put proper plans in place. Currently teachers and head teachers are all bundled into one cluster. Let them look into this,” he said.
MPs also demanded regular capacity-building programmes for teachers on management even as they teach. The House Committee however said teachers must be made to embrace the exercise. “We are aware that there are teachers who are doing very well. We want TSC to be in a position it can identify and recognise them with promotions,” he said.
He added: “We also expect TSC to be close to its teachers and ensure that those letting down the profession were dealt with.”
The MPs demanded that the teacher employer rolls out performance contracting at the same pace with county structures. This month, the commission deployed 47 County Directors to take over teacher management functions previously executed by District Education Officers.
And to enforce its policies, Lengoiboni said Deputy County Directors would be sent to all the districts.
“We want to strengthen our structures right from the lowest level to the head quarter,” announced Lengoiboni.