By Roy Hezron
The long standoff at the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) between the National office and a few branch Executive Secretaries who rejected the controversial Teacher Professional Development (TPD) has come to an end after the branch officials were reinstated to the union payroll.
A senior official at the KUPPET national headquarters, who sought anonymity, confirmed to Education News that all the union’s branch officials have been reinstated to the union payroll.
“A good number were reinstated between January and February this year while Vihiga and Migori executive secretaries Sabala Inyeni and Orwa Jasolo were reinstated in April,” confirmed the source.
Sabala Inyeni (Vihiga), Samuel Orwa Jasolo (Migori), Robert Miano (Laikipia) and William Lengoyiap (Samburu) were the most affected branch Executive Secretaries after publicly opposing the controversial TPD programme.
Efforts to reach the union’s Secretary General Akelo Misori for a comment on whether or not the officials were reinstated were futile since he hadn’t responded to an SMS sent to him by the time the story was going to press.
From October 2021, the officials weren’t being paid their dues with the national office claiming that the officials’ salaries were being sent to them together with branch union dues.
The union’s head office suspended several branch Executive Secretaries from the union payroll in what they referred to as a breach of protocol in voicing teachers concerns on the controversial TPD modules.
In a letter sent to the affected branches, Misori directed the branch Treasurers to pay the Executive Secretaries from the union dues sent to the branch, which was a total shift from the previous arrangement where the branch bosses were paid by the head office, after taking a leave of absence from Teachers Service Commission (TSC) upon election.
The affected branch bosses lamented that the union’s decision was complicated since they had third party obligations and financial obligations to fulfill.
Speaking to Education News, Samburu Branch Executive Secretary William Lengoyiap stated that he is now better off since he can discharge services to his branch effectively.
He added that the branch dues alone were not enough to run the operations of the branch.
“The decision to merge the salaries of the executive secretaries with the union dues cost us a lot. At times, I would get less than Sh 10,000 salary. Samburu branch on its own can’t even support the Executive Secretary’s salary,” said Lengoyiap.
The decision by the national office to lump the salaries of branch executive secretaries with union dues was seen as a way to crack the whip on defiant Executive Secretaries who protested on the roll out of the controversial TPD programme by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) on September 22, 2021 at Centre for Mathematics, Science and Technology Education in Africa (CEMASTEA).
Some union branch officials took on social media platforms with open letters between September 24, 2021 and September 27, 2021 warning the union’s head office of their branches’ rejection on the controversial TPD programme.
The officials decried that there was lack of stakeholder participation in the development of TPD, teachers’ inability to pay for TPD, a cost they maintained that should be catered for by TSC, TPD in relation to promotion and remuneration, duration of training and why only four institutions were identified to carry out the training.
They also expressed concern on the inability of the Union’s National Executive Board (NEB) to protect members.
It is believed that about 26 branches had written protest letters to the Secretary General. They include Migori, Vihiga, Kisii, Taita Taveta, Kwale, Tana River, Makueni, Busia, Trans Nzoia, West Pokot, Kericho, Bomet, Turkana, Samburu, Elgeyo Marakwet, Baringo, Laikipia, Nyandarua, Isiolo and Wajir.
However, in memo dated September 28, 2021 addressed to all union branch executive secretaries on presentation of collective grievances, Misori revealed that most of the Branch Executive Secretaries didn’t even deliver their letters. He said that he only received letters from ten (10) branches between September 24 and 27 last year.
“Worryingly, most secretaries never even delivered their alleged letters to my office. In fact, by close of business on Friday 24th, my office had received emails from just three branches: Migori, Uasin Gishu and Isiolo. By the close of business on Monday 27th, I received letters from seven more branches: Kwale, Narok, Samburu, Meru, Tana River, Wajir and Makueni,” Misori revealed in the memo.
The TPD refresher programme was stopped by legislators on March 3, 2022. The legislators recommended that TSC should carry out extensive public participation, increase the number of institutions and that the government should pay for the cost of the programme and come up with a legislative framework to establish a different professional body to regulate the teaching profession since TSC holds constitutional mandate of employer and regulator.