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TSC: We won’t accept low grade teachers

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By OUMA WANZALA
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The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) has warned that it will not register teachers who will join training colleges with lower grades as proposed by the Kenya National Qualifications Authority (KNQA).

“Should persons with lower qualifications opt to train as teachers, they face the danger of not being registered by the commission on account of non-compliance with the Commission’s standards,” said TSC Chief Executive Officer Nancy Macharia in a letter dated September 25 to the authority’s Director General Juma Mukhwana.

The warning by TSC dashes the hopes of thousands of students who were keen to join the institutions.

To address the issue, Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed has invited TSC, KNQA and Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) for a crisis meeting on Thursday October 4, 2018 in Nairobi.

Mrs Macharia said lowering of the college entry grades will affect the quality of teachers in the country.

KNQA had indicated that students seeking to study for a diploma in education would have a C plain or C- in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exam, down from the previous C+.

Meanwhile, those seeking a certificate in education (popularly known as P1), needed to have a D+, down from a C plain.

“These changes will ensure the sustainability of teacher training in the country, which is under threat from reforms being undertaken in the technical vocational education training (TVET) sector,” Dr Mukhwana said early this month.

But TSC has hit out at the authority saying it has no mandate to decide the entry grade for those joining the teaching service, further warning that it will not recognise such teachers.

“The commission takes a serious view of the attempt by the authority to arrogate itself the powers to review the standards of education and training of persons entering the teaching service; and proposing to lower the minimum entry requirements. Lowering of minimum entry standards for teachers is a serious affront to national development and may be a recipe for failed future economy,” reads the letter.

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She went on: “That a country’s development is anchored on the quality of education it offers to its youth cannot be overstated. For this reason, it is of great importance to put in place minimum qualification requirements for persons aspiring to train as teachers which serve as a filter to let in only the best to become teachers. This is the surest way to provide to the youth, the holders of our future, the opportunity to have the best teachers.”

Mrs Macharia said since 1998, the government changed its policy on employment of teachers from supply-driven to demand-driven in a bid to contain the runway national wage bill.

“As a result, currently there are more than 290,000 trained teachers who have not secured employment with the commission due to budgetary constraints and other factors. Some of the teachers in question trained as way as back as 2008. This huge number of unemployed trained teachers cannot be an indication of lack of interest in the profession. It clearly demonstrates that the country has surplus trained teachers,” she added.

Mrs Macharia went on: “In respect, it is not clear why, despite lacking the locus to review the qualification for persons entering the teaching service, the authority has proposed lowering the same while currently the country’s economy is not able to absorb the already trained teachers with higher qualifications than those proposed by the authority.”

She said lowering of entry grades for teacher training is mainly advisable where there exists a sustained lack of interest in the profession like in Zimbabwe.

Mrs Macharia said as a regulator, the commission has the mandate to review the standards of education and training of people entering the teaching service and to advise the national government on matters relating to the teaching profession.

“From the foregoing, the commission takes the view that your proposal to lower the qualifications of persons to train as teachers has the potential of over flooding the job market with low grades persons trained as teachers,’ said the CEO.



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Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard

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Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.

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However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

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Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard

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President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow

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Drastic life changes affecting mental health

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Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.

KBC Radio_KICD Timetable

Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.

Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.

The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.

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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.

In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020.  It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.

A study by Dr. Habil Otanga,  a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says  that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.

KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.

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Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.

As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.

“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”

Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.

“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.

Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.

“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”

Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.

“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.

Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.

Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.

She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.

Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.

“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added

Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.

“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and  also engage in   reading that would  help expand their knowledge.

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