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JSS teachers advised to adapt to new workplace

The Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) Deputy Secretary General Mr. Hesbon Otieno has challenged Junior Secondary School (JSS) teachers countrywide to quickly adapt to their new workplaces.

Otieno made the call during the Baringo KNUT branch’s 39th Annual General Meeting at Kabarnet Rehabilitation Centre, where he stated that the JSS teachers need to team up with their colleagues in the primary section for an effective transition of learners up to the highest level.

He said that the JSS teachers should not belittle their counterparts in primary simply because of their academic qualifications, but instead they should borrow from their expertise.

“I want to advise our junior secondary school friends who were recently recruited that you have a degree indeed, but also know that at the schools where you have been deployed, you are meeting your other colleagues, like the school heads, who have degrees as well, and if it happens that you are meeting one or two who do not have degrees, then you are probably meeting somebody with experience,” the KNUT official said.

Otieno, who called for cordial working relationships among the teachers, noted that going forward under the competency-based curriculum (CBC), JSS will be merged with Primary as well as Early Childhood education, be renamed as a Comprehensive school, and be headed by one principal and a board of management.

He at the same time cautioned against a plot by other rival unions, which he claimed were using social media to threaten the JSS teachers not to join KNUT.

“We will not have demarcation of teachers because all of them have been registered under the Teachers Service Commission and have the liberty to join any union they so wish,” said Otieno, who also presided over the launch of the Baringo Branch Burial and Benevolent Fund hearse.

The Deputy Secretary General said the union was almost brought to its knees during the previous regime due to bad politics, but was now optimistic it will hit a record high in the coming years, since they were welcoming teachers from all cadres.

Baringo Senator Mr. William Cheptumo, who attended the annual general meeting, acknowledged that the union has had its fair share of challenges, but promised that the national government was willing to revive it to enable it to return to its former glory.

Cheptumo said that the Kenya Kwanza administration has hit the ground running in improving the education sector, especially the new CBC model, which was subjected to public recommendation from stakeholders.

He noted that there are some policies that are needed, including the criteria for selecting institutions that qualify for hardship allowance.

“The policy that is being applied to determine which area is in hardship and which one is not is an issue that needs to be addressed,” the legislator said.

Cheptumo added that all institutions that qualify for municipal council allowance should benefit, since it has been agreed upon by the relevant authorities.

He asked the office of the County Director of Education to team up with all head teachers within Kabarnet Municipality for them to be considered for the allowances.

“Going forward, we are also pushing for Eldama Ravine, Marigat, Kabartonjo, and Chemolingot towns so that all our sub-county headquarters become municipalities for our teachers to access the allowances,” the Senator said.

Baringo KNUT Branch Executive Secretary Bishop Joshua Cheptarus, in his remarks, asked the Teachers’ Service Commission (TSC) to look into the current shortage of teachers in JSS, which he said stands at over 800 across the county.

Cheptarus, who was flanked by his chairman, Mr. Silas Rutto, called on TSC to review the deployment policy to JSS since primary school teachers who have graduated from various universities are a demoralised lot following their denial to teach in the high schools, yet they have attained the requisite academic qualifications.

The executive secretary, who also decried a drop in the union membership from 3, 000 in 2018 to about 300 by early 2021, said they were working round the clock to recruit more members, including JSS teachers.

Cheptarus, however, hastened to add that local union membership has picked up and currently stands at slightly more than 1000.

By Benson Kelio and Joshua Kibet

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