JSS teachers threaten to go on strik if TSC fails to offer better terms
Junior Secondary School (JSS) teachers are unhappy with the terms and conditions offered by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) and have threatened to go on strike if their demands are not met. The teachers claim that they are being exploited and discriminated against by the TSC, which has imposed a two-year internship period before confirming them on permanent and pensionable terms.
The JSS teachers are part of the new Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) that was introduced in 2019 to replace the 8-4-4 system. The CBC aims to equip learners with skills and competencies that are relevant to the 21st century. The JSS teachers are expected to teach subjects such as pre-engineering, pre-agriculture, sports and arts, among others, to learners in grades 7, 8 and 9.
However, the JSS teachers say that they are not being paid fairly for their work and that they face uncertainty and insecurity in their jobs. They argue that they should be placed under job category C2, with a base wage that ranges from 34,955 to 43,694 per month, as per the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) signed between TSC and the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) in 2017³. They also demand that they be promoted to job group C3 after three years of service, as stipulated in the Career Progression Guidelines (CPG) for teachers.
However, the TSC has said that the JSS teachers will only be confirmed on permanent terms in 2025, after completing a two-year internship that started in 2023. The TSC has also said that the JSS teachers will be paid a monthly stipend of 15,000 during the internship period, which is less than half of what their counterparts in primary and secondary schools earn. The TSC has defended its decision, saying that the internship is meant to assess the competence and suitability of the JSS teachers before absorbing them into the system.
The JSS teachers have rejected the TSC’s explanation and have accused the commission of violating their rights and dignity. They have threatened to down tools if the TSC fails to review and revise their terms and conditions by the end of the year. They have also appealed to the Ministry of Education, the Parliament and the President to intervene and address their grievances. They have warned that their strike will disrupt the implementation of the CBC and affect the quality of education in the country.
The JSS teachers’ plight has also attracted the attention and support of other stakeholders in the education sector, such as the KNUT, the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) and the Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (KESSHA). These groups have urged the TSC to respect the CBA and the CPG and to treat the JSS teachers fairly and equitably. They have also called for dialogue and consultation between the TSC and the JSS teachers to resolve the impasse and avoid a crisis in the education system.