The Teachers Service Commission, TSC, opted to recruit teachers on an internship programme in a bid to address the teething staffing gaps in public primary and secondary schools. This programme would see intern teachers hired to work along the ones on permanent and pensionable terms. whereas both categories execute similar teaching tasks, the monthly perks for teacher interns are much lower compared to their counterparts on permanent terms.
Intern teachers working in secondary schools receive a gross pay of Sh15,000 per month while, those in primary schools pocket Sh10,000. This pay is subjected to further deductions like income tax and the national hospital insurance fund (NHIF). Those paying student loans to the higher education loans board (helb) receive much lower salaries.
The lowest paid teacher on permanent terms earns a monthly gross pay of between Sh25,692 (minimum) and Sh30,304 (maximum). While, the highest paid teacher pockets over Sh200,000 per month.
The commission employed over 10,000 interns recruited in November 2019 and who have been hoping that they would one day be absorbed permanently. Their contract runs for one year; up to November, 2020.
Pressure has been mounting on the teachers’ employer to give the intern teachers permanent jobs. In December, last year,a group of lawyers took TSC into task over intern teachers’ contract terms and salaries. Also, members of parliament have been against this idea of employing teachers on internship.
Whereas the teachers are free to apply for permanent slots, these slots are just a handball and their advertisements are equally far between.
TSC projects a teacher shortage of close to 50,000 teachers in primary schools alone. The situation is equally wanting in secondary learning institutions as a result of the influx of large numbers from primary schools.
Employing contract teachers on permanent basis. Which way the TSC?
In its 2020/ 2021 budget estimates, the commission says a total of Sh2.1 billion is required to employ more teachers. According to the TSC Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Nancy Macharia, the funds will be utilized to employ 5,000 teachers on permanent terms and other 10,000 teachers on the internship programme.
“The funds are estimated to employ 5,000 new teachers for seven months and 10,000 interns for nine months,” Dr. Macharia recently told a parliamentary committee on education.
So, where does this leave the current interns? This is the mind boggling question lingering in the over 10,000 teacher interns.
Truth be said, the commission is not considering to absorb the current group of teacher interns as there are no budgetary allocation for the same; as at now. According to Dr. Macharia, the commission is projecting to recruit about 40,000 more tutors; and again on internship. If TSC decides to absorb the interns permanently (which will be a good thing) then it will be a big sigh of relieve for those currently on contractual terms. In 2010, for instance, it had to take the intervention of parliament for the interns to be absorbed. In the subsequent employments the teacher interns were awarded an extra marks range to give them an edge over others. The current recruitment guidelines haven’t included such a provision. The recruitment guidelines and marking schemes give more weight to teachers who graduated earlier.
A voice of reason somewhere should listen to the cries of intern teachers; sooner than later.