Kenyan teachers have been agitating for their pay increase for close to 18 years and Parliament has been right at the centre. In the current tussle, the Budget and Appropriations committee of the National Assembly decided teachers’ salaries would not be implemented because teachers declined to sign performance contracts.
Hansard records show the last teachers’ salary review was done 1997 following a strike that led to adopting a phased salary structure that ended in 2007. Reporting to Parliament in July 2008, Hon. Calist Mwatela who was the assistant minister of education admitted there were huge discrepancies between the teachers’ salaries and that of other public servants. Regardless, the salary structure agreed upon in 1997 was not honored.
In January 2009, the Ministry of Education (MOE) formed the Teachers Service Remuneration Committee to discuss how they would pay the teachers’ pay rise amounting to sh17 billion. However deliberations of the committee with TSC and union officials did not yield fruits.
Teachers striked again in September 2011. Parliament discussed the issue at length as the strike paralyzed learning as students prepared for their national examinations. Parliamentarians discussed the need to not only increase teachers’ numbers but also their pay in order to motivate them to work better.
The matter was debated again in 2012 as Parliamentarians evaluated allowances given to teachers among other officials. At the time, the MOE explained that further discussions on salaries would be addressed by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission. Moreover, the Minister of education claimed the phased salary increment had been implemented fully.
During the budget making process in 2013, MPs again raised the issue of disparities in allowances that teachers get in comparison to other civil servants and urged that this be rectified. In fact, when Dr. Lydia Nzomo was considered and approved as the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) chairperson they tasked her to end the perennial strikes over salaries.
It is clear that MPs have elaborated on this issue for a long time. In fact, any discussion captured in the Hansard about teachers also includes comments on their need to be better remunerated. Teachers perform a critical service and shape every young Kenyan’s future. Disgruntled teachers cannot give quality service as they are distracted running other businesses to make ends meet.
Under the Constitution, Parliament controls the purse strings and allocates and locates budgets. As it was evidenced when they located some additional funds for counties, they have the powers to decide on the matter. Parliament could for instance allow TSC to pay them from their existing budget and replenish it from supplementary budget. Wisdom must inform the final decision. What do you think?