Three weeks ago, Ms Nancy Macharia began her second five-year term as the Teachers Service Commission secretary with little fanfare.
Ms Macharia was appointed to the position in June 2015 to replace Mr Gabriel Lengoiboni, who had led the commission for 11 years.
The secretary is the head of the secretariat, the accounting officer of the commission and custodian of its records.
The holder of the position executes the decisions of the commission while facilitating, coordinating and ensuring the accomplishment of its mandate.
Last month, Law Society of Kenya president Nelson Havi wrote to the Attorney-General warning against reappointing Ms Macharia without subjecting the vacancy to a competitive process.
Ms Macharia has split opinion about her performance, especially on teacher management.
One of her greatest achievements has been the implementation of a Sh54 billion deal that has seen teachers’ salaries increase and whose last phase will be effected this month.
The TSC signed a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) and the Kenya Union for Post-Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) in 2016. The deal has almost stamped out perennial strikes.
In the first month of her term, the commission launched a multibillion-shilling teachers’ medical insurance scheme. It has 1,006,673 registered beneficiaries, including spouses and children of teachers.
Ms Macharia’s move to professionalise teaching by introducing performance contracts and career progression guidelines put her on a collision course with Knut.
This has seen the two slug it out in courts. Knut members suffered when the TSC left them out of the pay increases last year, citing a court ruling. They are now waiting with bated breath to find out if they will be included in the last pay-out.
The decision saw thousands of teachers quit Knut to join Kuppet or remain union-less. Knut lost earnings since TSC refused to remit union dues. The TSC boss has drawn criticism for her perceived efforts to cripple teachers’ unions through divide-and-rule tactics. She has been seen to favour Kuppet while side-lining the more radical Knut.
Last year, the commission de-registered Knut Secretary-General Wilson Sossion as a teacher and notified the union of its intention to end their 52-year-old recognition agreement.
Ms Macharia’s failure to fix the chronic teacher shortage counts against her as public schools remain understaffed despite more than 300,000 registered teachers being jobless.