Recently, the Kenya Union of Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) announced the launch of a pressure campaign by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to reform the payment of house allowances to teachers.
The current policy, which has been in place for decades, limits teachers’ housing allowances by their own terms.
For this purpose, employers have identified four regional categories: Nairobi; Big cities like Mombasa, Kisumu, Malindi and Naivasha; The district headquarters include Nyeri, Eldoret, Kericho, Kakamega, Garissa, Kisii and Nakuru; and the rest of the country.
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Accordingly, teachers in Nairobi receive twice the housing allowance offered to their counterparts elsewhere in the country.
To cite just two examples, Nairobi teachers in Class C2, compared to Task Force K, take Sh16,500 for homework, while those from other parts of the country only get Sh7,500.
Nairobi teachers in Class C3, the same as Group L, take home Sh35,000, while their compatriots from other parts of the country get just Sh15,400. The gap is higher in higher grades.
Any policy that creates such inequality is not only unfair, it flies in the face of sound principles of human resource management and is downright illegal. Article 27(3) of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010, as read with Article 43(b), unanimously prohibits all forms of discrimination and provides for decent accommodation.
A teacher’s right to decent housing can be measured by several legal parameters, such as work experience, family size, special needs, and others, but of course not in the area of service.
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Set it up like in the days when municipalities provided more. housing for civil servants in urban areas, this policy is contrary to the current national education policy. At that time, the rent charged by Nairobi City Council was higher than other municipalities.
Most Kenyans live on their farms, and public schools in rural areas spare no effort to provide housing for teachers, and landlords charge teachers rent.
The dynamics of that market have changed so much that it is wrongly assumed that teachers in Nairobi pay the highest rent in the country.
Still, many Kenyans live in urban areas, which have seen rents rise. Rent is located in Kiambu, Machakos and Kajiado areas, Kiambu City, Limuru, Juja, Athi River, Kangundo, Ongata Rongai and Ngong suburbs in Nairobi.
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Most of the small towns like Migori, Nanyuki, Kabartonjo and Hola have very high rents. Also, rent in Nairobi varies from property to property. This change occurred when schools were unable to provide housing for teachers.
Obtaining detailed information about teacher housing needs requires time and resources that are not readily available for employers to accommodate. But the old assumption no longer applies.
It is fair to admit that the current policy has worked and now creates more problems than it solves. Nairobi’s wage gap at the top of the ladder has created a strong demand for teachers to work from Nairobi, with many schools overstaffed and surrounding areas experiencing teacher shortages.
What this means is that the policy perpetuates the historical marginalization of underserved areas and undermines the right of children from these areas to access higher education.
Since teachers are both consumers and role models, the impact on educational and economic outcomes in Kenya could be even worse. We take this old policy to its logical conclusion instead ofengaging the employer in negotiations.
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The justice system accurately reflects today’s reality. At the very least, we want housing allowances based on occupational groups. Our cost analysis shows that the new system will be affordable to taxpayers, with immediate benefits in the future in the wise placement of teachers. TSC has paid other allowances based on occupational groups and housing should not be exempted.
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