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Knut to oppose ministry’s plan to discontinue holiday studies

In this interactive series, we invite our readers to send in questions to select public figures. Answers will be published in the next print and online editions. This week, Knut Secretary-General Wilson Sossion responds to your questions.

Sir, do you still believe the Principal of Alliance High School was wrongly dismissed after bullying was reported in his school?

Edward B. Wekesa, Eldoret

Detailed evidence strongly indicates a forced early retirement maliciously engineered by Jogoo House and executed by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) without allowing the Board of Management to discuss the purported inspection report and give recommendations as required by procedure.

Jogoo House and TSC hijacked the management of the school and unfairly bundled out Mr David Kariuki.

All schools have issues, why inspect Alliance alone? The photo of an alleged bullied boy is actually a Form Four boy with discipline issues and was injured while jumping through the window.

READ: Alliance High head retires amid reports of bullying

READ: Alliance bullying saga causes stir

The photographs were taken at Jogoo House. Due process was not followed and the action taken is malicious and unfair.

Mr Sossion, what efforts is Knut making to make sure teachers who retired between 1997-2002 are paid their dues as per the High Court ruling, which was subsequently affirmed by the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court?

Andrew Maranga Ratemo, Malindi

We have constantly been in touch with the TSC and the Director of Pensions to ensure that the order is executed. We shall be on it until the last coin is paid no matter how long it takes.

Do you really champion teachers’ rights? A case in point is a principal in a school in Kericho County who has been harassing teachers and the union has never acted. Is the union only interested in collecting dues?

Maritim, Kericho

All cases reported to us are instantly handled and we have no backlog on reported cases at the head office. We run a very efficient registry. It is hard for us to act on unreported cases. We urge members to report cases to our branch offices.

Why has the government given civil servants a hefty pay rise after you signed an empty Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA)?

Ngari John

The civil servants are yet to sign their CBA and what is in circulation could be propaganda hoax. All workers, whether civil servants or teachers, must receive equal treatment.

Hundreds of teachers have sacrificed a lot in terms of money and hours to study for the holiday-based degree programmes.

Now the government, which allowed the programme, has come up with new rules and even wants to suspend the programme to the detriment of many teachers – some have sold property and some taken huge loans for the same.

What plan does Knut have to assist these helpless teachers to complete their degree studies?

Seth Lumidi Mwangani, Nairobi

We shall resist attempts by Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i to discontinue holiday studies for teachers.

Quality teachers shall be achieved through continuing education particularly holiday studies. Matiang’i is not a god of knowledge.

Are you a politician or a trade unionist? I am asking this question because, in my opinion, you have over-politicised teachers’ demands for better remuneration. Most recently, you endorsed Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto’s re-election. Don’t you think your political inclination affects teachers’ pursuit for better terms?

James Miriti Maore -Educationist, Meru County

I am a trade unionist who strongly subscribes to the Marxist theory of trade unions or political revolutionary theory, which advocates continuous hard struggle by unions.

We support political leaders who have stood with us openly without fear on labour matters. We equally fight those who have undermined our interests.

How would you describe Knut in terms of delivering services to teachers, especially on matters pertaining to demands for a salary increase?

Francis Njuguna, Kibichoi

We have done very well in the pursuit of better salaries for teachers by securing a Sh54 billion deal. We are now focusing on the next CBA after full implementation of the current one.

Sir, how many national training institutions for teachers are there in the country?

Wanjiku wa Karago, Ruiru

There are 29 public teacher training colleges (TTCs) and 32 public universities. Some TTCs were upgraded to universities, which constitutes an attack on teachers’ training.

It is claimed that TSC intends to scrap teachers’ allowances before implementing the salary increments come July. Is this true and was it part of the CBA?

Evans Wanyonyi Mukhweya, Bungoma

Some allowances shall be absorbed in the salaries from July 1 in order to accrue into a pensionable earning. Before then, it shall run in the payroll.

Mr Sossion, why is it that the teachers’ CBA is inferior to that of the civil servants? Does it mean that teachers work less? Brief us on the contents of the teachers’ job evaluation report.

Muchiri Nelson, Kirinyaga

Teachers’ CBA is not inferior to that of civil servants since it is not yet concluded. We won’t accept discrimination whatsoever. The job evaluation has recognised the work done by head teachers. It has scaled up the job value of P1 teachers by one grade.

Sir, is it true that Knut is supporting Nasa because the government is frustrating teachers?

John Mwaniki

Knut is a free and independent trade union with members of diverse political views. Unless extremely necessary, we let our members vote according to their conscience and support parties of their choice.

Sir, are you aware that teachers are suffering under AON medical scheme and Bliss GVS Healthcare Ltd? Most medical facilities like Bomu Hospital (Mkomani), Mombasa, do not want to see teachers, claiming that our employer TSC does not remit the money on time. What is your take?

Vincent O. Ondora, Mombasa

TSC and the contracted service provider must ensure that teachers receive the highest level of treatment. Issues of delayed disbursement of funds should never affect access to quality health services.

After the teachers lost their case at the Court of Appeal, many analysts have been questioning the relevance of trade unions in CBAs, since Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) is a constitutional body whose input must always be sought. The ongoing doctors’ strike is a case in point. What is your take on this?

Komen Moris, Eldoret

Trade union rights are human rights and the right to collective bargaining remains a constitutional right. We shall soon be seeking the Supreme Court’s interpretation on the role of SRC.

After the release of 2016 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education exam results, you have continued to call for the recall of the results. Recently, you were also quoted as calling for caution in the introduction of the proposed education system (2-6-3-3-3). Are you against reforms in the education sector?
Komen Moris, Eldoret

We are not against reforms. We demand that things be done correctly. Any mess shall be opposed.

One time you called for the closure of Bridge International Academies in Kenya. We have one in my village at Mwimuto, Kabete. What is your stand on the matter?

Githuku Mungai, Kabete

Bridge International Academies is one of the biggest scandals in developing countries and we shall continue fighting their operations.

Mr Sossion, what have you presented to TSC to cushion teachers against calamities like drought or insecurity in hostile areas?

Oluchina Antony, Eldoret

These are classified as hardship areas and hardship allowance paid.

Many people believe Knut is synonymous with fighting for better pay for teachers. What other teacher development activities do you undertake?

Kairu Kamuri, Naivasha

We undertake research work, training and advocacy programmes. Currently we are engaged in the global response to privatisation campaigns, School Related Gender Based Violence Campaigns, Education and trade union rights for indigenous communities among other activities.

Why do you always seem to disagree with the government over decisions even those meant to improve service delivery by the teachers? A case in point is introduction of performance appraisals?

Benard Nyang’ondi, Mombasa

We are under duty to protect the teaching profession against proponents of deprofessionalisation of teaching. There is still no evidence that performance contracting improves quality of teaching.

You are on record as saying that you will mobilise all Knut members countrywide not to vote for the Jubilee government in the August elections because of reasons best known to yourself. What makes you imagine that all the teachers will do as you order?

Erick Ole Agade, Malaba

If workers’ matters are not properly addressed, ignored or vilified by the employer, then their political decisions will be dire.

On the retired teachers’ case, the government agreed to accept only 30,000 retirees. What about those who were left out and won’t the CBA you readily accepted meet the same fate after the August 2017 General Election?

Mulaa Muthoka, Kitui

The CBA structure ensures that there are no omissions during implementation and its implementation is smooth.

Mr Sossion, what is your level of interaction with Matiang’i taking into account your onslaught on his efforts of cleaning up the education sector? Is your working relationship cordial and are you ready to stop the antagonism?

David M. Kigo, Nairobi

The CS is extremely arrogant and does not respond to letters from us.

Teachers have taken bank loans so that they could improve their papers through university degrees yet, to date, TSC has not promoted them. Some graduated in 2013 and banks are milking them dry yet you are silent. Could this be one of the conditions you accepted during the signing of the CBA? How can a graduate be promoted to the level of ATS IV Teacher simply because TSC is phasing out the P1 grade?

Peter Nyambare, Siaya County

Recognition of new qualifications with effect from the date of graduation is a right as contained in the existing schemes of service.

We are examining the option of taking action against TSC if teachers are not recognised and promoted accordingly. 

Why do you support moderation in the marking of national examinations while it is argued that, in the long run, it contributes to production of substandard and half-baked professionals/scholars?

Derek Liech, Mombasa

Normative method of treating raw marks requires comparison of learners for all ordinary level exams, hence moderation. The criterion reference method used is wrong.

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