The Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) has voiced approval for the recent decision to convert the employment status of 26,000 Junior Secondary School (JSS) intern teachers from contractual to permanent and pensionable terms.

Francis Wanjohi, the Chairperson of Kuppet in Nyeri, hailed the move as commendable and timely, addressing the concerns of 46,000 JSS tutors who had been advocating for this change since the start of the term.

These intern teachers stepped in to teach JSS classes after the last batch of Class Eight candidates completed their national exams in November last year. This marked the end of the 8-4-4 education system, which had been in place since 1985.

However, they initiated a boycott of classes earlier this term, demanding that the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) convert their contracts to permanent and pensionable terms.

Wanjohi expressed Kuppet’s satisfaction with this development, emphasizing that the first group of 26,000 teachers had completed their one-year internship and deserved to be absorbed as permanent employees.

However, Wanjohi urged Parliament to allocate additional funds promptly to ensure the employment of the remaining teachers, preventing similar crises in the future.

He also called for an end to the practice of hiring teachers on contract terms, asserting that it undermines the teaching profession and deviates from established norms.

Initially, TSC had planned to confirm the JSS teachers in January 2025. However, a surprising shift in stance occurred when Julius Melly, the Chair of the Education Committee, informed the Budget and Appropriations Committee that funds amounting to Sh8.3 billion had been allocated for the permanent employment of 26,000 intern teachers.

Melly urged TSC to streamline the recruitment process to utilize the allocated resources fully in the next financial year, advocating for the conversion of the interns into permanent employees starting July 2024 and January 2025, as previously indicated.

Prior to this announcement, several intern teachers had received show cause letters for unexplained absences from work.

On April 17 this year, Justice Bryrum Ongaya of the Employment and Labour Relations Court ruled in favor of the intern teachers, stating that TSC had violated their right to fair labor practice. The court ruled that TSC should employ registered teachers to meet staffing needs in public schools.

The ruling stemmed from a case filed by the Forum for Good Governance and Human Rights challenging TSC over the Teacher Internship Programme.

The internship program, launched in 2019, initially paid JSS teachers Sh20,000, while their primary counterparts received Sh15,000, excluding statutory deductions.

On May 13 this year, numerous JSS teachers in Nyeri County boycotted work and protested in the streets, demanding permanent and pensionable employment from TSC, along with compensation for alleged underpayment over ten months.

Purity Wangeci, Chairperson of Kenya Junior Secondary Teachers Association (KEJUSTA) in Nyeri, asserted that members would stay away from schools until TSC addressed their demands, as ordered by the courts.