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Uproar over repeal of admission of D+ learners to colleges.

A standoff looms between the Education ministry and leaders from marginalised counties over a decision to admit learners of P1 certificate into teaching colleges by virtue of affirmative action.

Instead, a circular from the ministry to principals in these colleges offers an option for the learners to switch courses in technical colleges.

This was the first and only bunch admitted under the ministry's directive that saw D+ students from 17 counties gazetted as marginalised, admitted to the colleges.

The move is set to affect about 3,000 learners and could open a legal war between the government and those affected. The Star has learnt that some quarters are ready to file a court case over the issue.

Yesterday, various stakeholders in the education sector led by the teachers union termed the move erroneous and one that could have detrimental consequences to the learners who have spent six months in the TTCs.

This ultimately implies that their six months of training could go to waste if the government fails to revert its stand.

Through the Frontier Counties Development Council, the leaders allege malice in the decision to withdraw the registration of the learners from the teaching colleges as they largely hail from Northern Kenya.

Mandera Governor Ali Roba argues the move will continue pushing the counties to marginalisation as they hoped those admitted would address the teacher shortfall in the north after graduating.

A classical example is the case of Wajir county where in 2017, only three students applied to join TTCs compared to last year where 300 students sought admission after lowering the entry grade.

"This was a noble idea that could help pastoral communities. Ideally, it aimed to customize the teacher availability to mobile parents and children in a way that they could move with the communities as they migrate in search of pasture and water," Roba told the Star yesterday.

The government has given the learners the option to reconsider admission to technical colleges for a course of their choice.

The affected students got their way into the colleges after the ministry lowered the entry grade of learners to TTCs from grade C plain to D+ for 17 counties gazetted as marginalised.

In so doing, it hoped to attract and retain teachers, trainers, in the regions that suffer understaffing due to insecurity, harsh working conditions, poor infrastructure and cultural barriers which make it hard to retain teachers in these areas.

Differing with the decision, the Teachers Service Commission opened a successful legal battle with the ministry, arguing the mandate to determine the colleges' entry mark lies with them.

This could mean the troubled marginalised counties will have to wait longer before they can get enough teachers from within their communities as per the UNESCO recommendations.

This is even as teachers from other counties shy from teaching in these counties.

TSC argues teachers' contracts bind them to work anywhere within the country but insecurity, hostility from host communities and other hardships have discouraged this.

Ripple effects leading to understaffing, poor, high illiteracy levels and poor enrolment into the schools.

Amendment to TSC Act

Already, Wajir East legislator Rashid Amin argues the ministry ought to put into consideration affirmative action in the admission for persons from marginalised regions to public primary and secondary schools.

The MP has already presented an amendment to the TSC act before Parliament seeking to give the Education minister the power to decide entry grade of learners to TTCs.

' The amendments we are proposing will factor in the issue of minorities, the issue of disabilities and affirmative action. There are 17 counties and schools that are doing without teachers and we hope Parliament will do drastic action to avail teachers,' Amin told the Star yesterday.

That will assist in customizing teaching as a fundamental right for our fellow compatriots who must move as compared to us who are stationary,' he stated. of P1

The row comes amid plans to phase out P1 training in September.

The certificate courses will be phased out leaving only diploma programmes for primary school teacher trainees.
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Publication:The Star (Nairobi, Kenya)
Date:May 6, 2019
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