A court has ruled that a case challenging the implementation of the Teacher Professional Development (TPD)Programme is urgent.
Justice David Nderitu of the Employment and Labour Relations Court however refused to suspend the implementation of the TPD program and directed the petitioner, Joseph Karanja, to serve all parties before the October 7 hearing.
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Judge Nderitu stated that the petition's issues were serious and directed Karanja to file a complaint and serve as the respondents who include the Teachers Service Commission (TSC), and the Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha.
“The petitioner (Karanja) is ordered to serve the pleading on all the parties for the hearing of the said notice of motion inter-parties,” ordered Nderitu.
The Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET), Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT), Kenyatta University (KU), Mt Kenya University (MKU), Riara University, and the Kenya Education Management Institute (KEMI) are to be served as well.
Karanja stated on Monday that the mandatory refresher training by the teachers' employer violates tutors' rights. TSC began a professional development (TPD) training program for public school teachers on September 22nd, which will be used to determine promotions and continued employment.
The petitioner urged the court to declare the mandatory teachers' program null and void for violating supreme law provisions.
“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.
TSC launched the TPD programme on September 22nd, a new module that will see public school teachers renew their professional certificates every 5 years.
The petitioner claims that the TSC imposed the program by incorporating it into the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), but failed to engage in the required public participation.
At the same time, the petitioner has raised concerns about TSC's decision to base teacher promotions on mandatory professional courses and to impose additional educational requirements for their continued employment despite having completed the required educational requirements.
“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 filed a lawsuit against Kenyatta University, Riara University, Mount Kenya University, and the Kenya Education Management Institute (KEMI), which were chosen by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to train teachers.
The Education Consultant raised concerns about the tendering process for awarding the four higher learning institutions to carry out the training program.
“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 also opposes the proposal to have teachers pay for in-service training, arguing that the TSC should bear the cost.
TSC Chief Executive Nancy Macharia stated during the training program's launch that the TPD is a life-long learning program organized in six-tiered competency levels, with each level taking five years to complete.
This means that over the course of a 30-year teaching career, each teacher will be required to take a total of five modules, which will cost around Sh180,000.
A labor court halted the implementation of professional development training programs that would determine teacher promotion in 2019. The court ruled that the TPD program was not valid for implementation because there was no regulation promulgated by TSC to guide the programs.
In addition, in 2016, the Commission implemented Performance Contracting for Institutional Heads and Teacher Performance Appraisal and Development (TPAD) for teachers, with the goal of strengthening curriculum implementation and accountability in resource utilization in order to improve learning outcomes.
Teacher unions had previously urged the employer to recall the performance appraisal tools, stating that the exercise had caused anxiety among teachers. The Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) has already rejected the TPD module.
Nairobi County Branch executive secretary said there is a need for social dialogue in KUPPET to interrogate some areas of law policy and regulations that make a teacher's work environment hostile such as section 42 of the code of regulation for teachers.
The code talks about mandatory TPD but does not address payment. Other sections that need to be interrogated according to Mboara includes section 47, 237 and 3 which gives TSC the mandate to regulate teaching as a profession.
He said the Nairobi Kuppet Branch shall seek clear interpretation on how this shall be done but that and even consider presenting a petition to parliament to have section 47 of the TSC act repealed or amended.
"We can also have the code of regulations for teachers section 42 amended, we can also marshal the support of members of parliament to enable section 237 of the constitution to be amended if it doesn't require a referendum." Said Mbora during the interview.
He said teachers should have laws that protect them in their work environment. The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) President Nelson Havi said that teachers dug their own graves when they replaced Wilson Sossion as the Secretary-General of the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT).
"Teachers, you left Wilson Sossion to be fought to exhaustion by the State. KNUT withdrew all cases against the State when you replaced Sossion with a Secretary of ‘your preferred choice’. Said Havi.
He however promised to challenge the oppressive TPD Programme in court for the sake of his late father and my mother, both of whom were great teachers.
"After reflecting on what would have been good for my late father and my mother, both of whom were great teachers, I have changed my mind. I will act for teachers to challenge the oppressive Teacher Professional Development Programme imposed by the TSC. Let us get started."
TSC's launch of TPD modules last week sparked a debate, with the majority of teachers opposing the plan.
TSC, he claimed, did not involve teachers or education stakeholders in the development of the content of the module to be completed as part of the professional development program.
According to Karanja, the TSC's rollout of the program was done in secret and without the participation of the teachers, who are the primary subjects of the program.
He claimed that by appointing the listed institutions to offer the program, TSC violated the Constitution. According to Karanja, the majority of teachers are over the age of 50 and are unable to complete the training while still on the job, thereby excluding them from further advancement.
He now wants the court to rule that TSC violated the Constitution by developing and attempting to implement the teacher professional development program. He finally wants the program to be declared unconstitutional and null and void.
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