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Tribulations of experienced teachers employed by TSC as JSS interns

In 2015, Edna Kamuren from Tenges in Baringo Central left her job as a laboratory technician at Kabarnet Boys High School and enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts Education at Kisii University.

The motivation behind the decision was to improve his life and that of his three children.

The 40-year-old had previously graduated with a diploma from Eldoret Polytechnic, where she studied Analytical Chemistry, a course that earned her employment at Kabarnet Boys High School for more than 13 years.

He joined Kisii University, where he studied Kiswahili and Christian religious education.

“I was very optimistic that my future would be bright if I changed careers, from lab technician to high school tutor, but I did not leave my job,” he tells Nation.Africa.

He would report to school during the day and attend classes at night. The salary would go toward school tuition, but it wasn’t easy, she says.

“Despite all the difficulties of work, school and taking care of my three children, I managed to graduate in 2018,” she says.

She continued working as a technician after applying to several schools without success until 2022, when the government announced opportunities for lower secondary teachers, and she gave it a try. She was elated because this would change her life for the better if she enlisted, she reveals.

Despite applying for permanent, pensionable employment, she received feedback that she had worked as a trainee teacher at JSS, which took her by surprise as some recent graduates were permanently employed.

However, she was comforted by the employment letter, which indicated that she would be confirmed after a year.

The year would soon end, only for the government to fail to fulfill its promise, meaning that she and others at her destination would continue working in terms of internships.

Now she regrets having left her well-paid job as a laboratory technician to dedicate herself to teaching.

“The monthly income of Sh17,000 is insufficient to meet my needs and those of my children,” said Mrs Kamuren, who has since withdrawn her three children from a private school to a public school.

Like many other JSS teachers in your situation, you wonder what criteria were applied to employ recent graduates on permanent and pensionable terms, while the same was denied to experienced teachers.

“I am very discouraged because I was looking for ‘greener pastures’ as a high school teacher after leaving my job as a lab technician. I had big dreams for my children and I had high hopes that my employer, the Teachers Service Commission (TSC), would give me a bright future,” he says.

He had to get a loan to pay school fees, which are now deducted from his meager income.

“As a laboratory technician I earned more. But he wanted a better future and felt he needed to go back to school. I appeal to the government to fulfill his promise and confirm us in permanent employment because we are suffering,” he said.

It reveals that due to a shortage of teachers, some have to teach subjects they never studied at university, which means a workload for poorly paid trainee teachers.

Specialized in CRE and Kiswahili

“Although I specialized in CRE and Kiswahili, I teach other subjects that I never studied at university due to lack of teachers. It is very unfair because the workload and roles are shared equally with those in PnP,” he states.

It is the reason why student teachers have been organizing protests in the country demanding confirmation in the terms of the PnP.

Joan Toroitich from Karne in Baringo, a mother of two, graduated in 2016 after obtaining a Bachelor of Arts from Mount Kenya University.

He has resorted to doing menial jobs on weekends to make ends meet.

Like Ms. Kamuren, she had difficulty completing her university education as she came from a humble background.

At some point, he postponed his studies due to problems with school fees. In addition to her two children, she has younger brothers who admire her, all depending on her paltry 17,000 shillings.

He spends more than 250 shillings a day on bus fare to go to school, hence his decision to supplement his income through menial jobs during the weekends.

“Most of those who had jobs recently graduated from college. Why didn’t they consider those of us who graduated earlier? What criteria were used to hire us as interns? Because it is very unfair,” he told Nation.Africa.

She also points out the problem of lack of staff that has put a heavy workload on JSS teachers, regardless of their working conditions.

“We have two classes and one has 40 lessons a week, which means I have eight lessons a day. There is no time to rest, we work from morning to night,” she states. “I am supposed to teach English and literature, but I also have to take other subjects that I did not study at university because there is a shortage of teachers,” he points out.

“So much workload and so little salary are very demoralizing,” he says.

During the protests in Kabarnet Town last week, JSS student teacher Nicholas Keror took issue with TSC’s argument that the internship program was meant to equip them with skills and experience.

“What experience do you want us to have when some of us here graduated in 2015 and since then have been teaching in various schools under the direction of the Board of Directors? We have worked as junior high school trainee teachers for a year and a half and we want the government to keep its promise and hire us on permanent terms. “You cannot promise us heaven and give us hell,” she protested.

Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) Baringo branch executive secretary Zacharia Nyomboi said JSS trainee teachers have been going through challenges, with some unable to care for their families.

“What kind of internship is this and yet you’ve given the same job to someone who graduated a year ago? Where is the justice here? Nyomboi posed.

Kuppet has asked the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (KUPPET) to investigate the TSC and publish a report on how many teachers have been hired in the last two years on a permanent basis.

He took issue with members of Parliament for remaining silent on the matter.

“They (the legislators) are silent but they are aware that JSS children in public schools are not learning. It won’t be business as usual unless the government is willing to waste a generation. The government should fund the TSC to hire JSS teachers on permanent and pensionable terms,” Nyomboi added.

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