By Dickens Wasonga.
A circular released last week by the Directorate of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET)
recalling all the retiring principals of national polytechnics has caused disquiet among members of the Kenya Association of Technical Training Institutes (KATTI) .
A section of members of the association are opposed to the idea of recalling principals who have retired arguing the move is an insult to the many qualified trainers in the vocational and technical institutions who should have been considered for promotions and allowed to take over from their retiring colleagues.
The Public Service Commission (PSC) recently approved requests by the directorate to extend , by at least one year ,the contract of all the principals and TVET trainers who retired in 2015 to date and are still willing to continue working.
The directorate also put on hold all deployment of principals until January 2019 so as to include those whose contract expired late December this year .
PSC also given the directorate the greenlight to immediately start the hiring of 1000 trainers to fill the existing gap in the over 218 technical training institutions.
With over 218 Technical Training Institutions in Kenya including new 70 operational Technical and Vocational Technical Training Colleges (TVC), TVET sector experiences a shortage of more than 3,000 trainers, especially to be posted to the new TVC.
It is estimated that there are more than 8,000 unemployed technical trainers in the labour market desperately looking for employment.
Several principals retired from service by end of 2018 , among them the Kisumu national polytechnic’s principal Joyce Nyanjom .
Many of them have since handed over to the new principals and or to their deputies.
Those opposed to the directive by the directorate said currently there are no shortages of personnel to take leadership positions within the TVET Institutions.
They argued that there exist enough qualified personnel who can head the TVET institution in the country and therefore retired principals should not be recalled.
” The TVET Act and the legal notices that operationalizes the Act provides for competitive recruitment of National Polytechnic Principals by their respective council and therefore arbitrary appointment is more likely to open legal challenges unnecessarily” said a KATTI member who sought to remain anonymous
Those opposed to the recall move said that recruitment of Trainers and increased capitation should be the central focus of the directorate .
” Recall of retired principals is in bad faith and it is detrimental to the growth of TVET sector” he added
There were also claims that recall of the principals was a ploy designed to bring back only three retired National Polytechnic principals who are lobbying v to have their contract for one year extended.
They further claimed that the exiting principals were only keen to manage world bank projects in those institutions which are being funded to the tune of Sh1 billion each.
Three Principals who are amongst those who are affected by the new directive are said to have retired under Teachers Service Commission and managed to convince their councils to give them an extension of six months which expires by 31st of December 2018.
The disquiet among KATTI fraternity is that the attachment of the recall of retired principals to the recruitment of 1000 trainers is an indication of the directorate yielding to the pressure of a small click of retired principals at the detriment of many deserving cases of promotion.
Investigation also reveals that the issue of extension is also a matter in Kisumu High Court.
The matter challenges irregular extension of the principal’s contract at Kisumu National Polytechnic without a competitive process. The Matter is due for hearing on 07/02/2019.