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Excluding Unions From Education Reforms is a Mistake, Uasu Tells Ruto

Excluding Unions From Education Reforms is a Mistake, Uasu Tells Ruto

President Ruto has been chastised by the Universities Academics Staff Union (Uasu) for excluding the union from the 42-member education reform task force.

Aside from Uasu, other education unions represented on the task force include the Kenya Universities Staff Union (Kusu), the Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers, and the Kenya National Union of Teachers.

The Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotels, Educational Institutions, Hospitals, and Allied Workers is another key stakeholder in the education sector that has been excluded from the task force.

Uasu secretary-general Constantine Wasonga stated that President William Ruto cannot form a team to steer extensive education reforms to streamline the sector and improve learning while excluding Uasu.

Dr Wasonga said there will be no reforms in public universities without the input of Uasu.

Whether the union is in the task force team or not, he said Uasu will be there and it will give its views.

Dr. Wasonga was speaking at the Egerton University Njoro Campus on Monday when he announced the institution’s strike in response to a pay dispute.

According to Uasu’s president, some of the issues confronting public universities such as Egerton do not necessitate the intervention of a task force.

Wesonga said if the government wires money to an institution like Egerton University, the problem can be fixed.

He stated that he intends to propose to the education task force that university lecturers be paid directly from the exchequer.

He chastised some education commentators for claiming to be experts when they “know nothing about education.”

He warned that the Uasu will reject views that do not align with unions.

According to Kusu Secretary-General Charles Mukhwaya, the President has begun to fulfill his education promises on the wrong foot by excluding key stakeholders in the sector.

“As a union, we feel the government did not do any due diligence, the Constitution is very clear on stakeholders and public participation,” said Dr Mukhwaya.

Prof Raphael Munavu, a well-known educator, chairs the task force.

Other members include university vice-chancellors, lecturers, and public and special needs school teachers.

Private schools, colleges, faith-based organizations, the Teachers Service Commission, the Kenya National Examination Council, the Ministry of Education, and other stakeholders are also part of the team.

Kenyans have one month to submit their ideas for changes to the education sector, as the team appointed last month began public consultations.

Within one month, parents, teachers, administrators, students, religious leaders, and other interested parties will present their perspectives on education reforms at the elementary, secondary, and university levels.

Prof Raphael Munavu, chair of the Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms, invited submissions through a press advertisement.

Individuals, public and private institutions, and other interested parties are welcome to provide feedback to the team. The team will also be touring the country to gather public feedback.

Views should be expressed in the form of written memoranda, letters, or research papers.

They should be addressed to the chairperson of the reforms team and delivered in person to their office on the 10th Floor of Absa Towers, Loita Street, Nairobi, or via email or post.

According to an insider, the Kenya Kwanza government intends to combine the phased-out 8-4-4 education system with competency and value-based education, which are at the heart of CBC.

Many parents have expressed concerns about the amount and nature of homework assigned to their children, as well as parental involvement in learning.

Apprehension also abounds about the upcoming transition to junior secondary school, which is only two months away.

The shift from standardized examinations to school-based formative assessments has elicited mixed reactions, with many parents still unsure of their children’s placement in the junior secondary in January.

The president appointed the working group on September 29 and gave it six months to work and make recommendations.

It is expected, however, to provide Dr. Ruto with progress reports every two months.

The team is made up of experts from various fields. However, unions and associations representing teachers and lecturers were excluded. Nonetheless, they have expressed a willingness to present their points of view.

Following its induction on Friday, the working party divided itself into committees to deal with the various issues that were expected to be raised.

Outgoing Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha challenged members of the working party to be bold and rigorous in their work rather than politically correct.

“When you’re doing an experiment, you don’t do an experiment whose answer you already know.” Prof Magoha said. 

Prof Kithure Kindiki, the Cabinet nominee for Internal Security, stated that the curriculum review would be used to socialize children to adopt positive values “because the drug menace has cascaded to young sections of the population and only the education system can be used to instill positive moral values”.

Stakeholders in basic education will make recommendations on an appropriate structure for implementing the CBC as well as governance of the basic education sub-sector. Kenyans are divided on the structure change from 8-4-4 to 2-6-6-3 on which CBC is based.

Value-based education, community service learning, parental empowerment, and engagement are among the other issues being scrutinized in basic education.

Tertiary education stakeholders will share their perspectives on the governance and financing framework for technical and vocational education training, university education, research and training, and governance in tertiary education.

Due to the current financial and management challenges that public universities face, Prof Magoha referred to university education as “the sick child in the room.”

“I hope you’re not even thinking of combining the University Funding Board with Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) because Helb goes beyond universities,” said Prof Magoha.

Prof Munavu and his team are expected to propose a framework for operationalizing the Kenya Kwanza government’s promise to establish the National Open University of Kenya, as well as a framework for open, distance, and e-learning.

Excluding Unions From Education Reforms is a Mistake, Uasu Tells Ruto


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