Does hiring of 70,000 new teachers mean no jobs for those on strike?


The teachers’ strike bites on as the two warring sides continue engaging in a protracted court battle. The journey has not been uneventful for both sides with TSC putting forth fierce answers to the teachers’ stubbornness.

From well coined out cases to a total shut down of the education system in Kenya, the teachers’ employer has been firing red bullets, the latest being the official announcement that the commission is hiring 70,000 teachers.

Does this mean that the teachers on strike will lose their jobs?

In the circular issued by the Teachers Service Commission, the employer said they are “advertising 70,000 posts of relief teachers (50,000 Primary and 20,000 secondary) for a period of three months to alleviate the effect of the current teacher shortage in the country.”

Interpretation of TSC’s advertisement

Due to the on-going strike, most people, including major media houses in Kenya have rushed to misinterpret that move by TSC to mean that it is making good its threat to sack all the striking teachers. However, it should be remembered that there has been a biting shortage of teachers in the country. This situation had actually led the Kenya National Union of Teachers to request TSC to employ 70,000 more teachers to address the shortage.

Let me now draw your attention to the TSC’s statement giving the reason for employing 70,000 new teachers, which I directly quote as “…to alleviate the effect of the current teacher shortage in the country”.

In my view, the TSC is simply addressing the current teacher shortage, which has been existent even before the strike commenced.

Can 70,000 replace the striking teachers?

Currently, the government of Kenya through TSC employs about 288,000 teachers. It therefore goes without saying that 70,000 cannot restore learning in all the public schools that have now been closed indefinitely.

TSC says that not all teachers are on strike since about 45,000 are reporting to work. Supposing the commission succeeds in employing all 70,000 new teachers, the number would come to 115,000, which is not even 50% of the inadequate 288,000 teachers.

Is sacking striking teachers an option TSC can consider?

While there are a few practical solutions that TSC can take to end the stalemate, sacking all the teachers in Kenya is obviously not one of them. The legal battle that such a step could spark would be without doubt a losing battle for the commission.

Secondly, teachers have the advantage of numbers; it would be an uphill task for TSC to replace all the 288,000 tutors in the country. Sacked teachers would feel that it is intimidation to reapply for the same job and as a result, most of them will opt to quit. Few fresh graduates would also want to come into the service with the prevailing conditions.

So stop throwing the country into a panic for nothing: No teacher is losing their job!