The national organisation of county government workers on Wednesday 31st January 2024 protested the recent recommendations by the Presidential Working Party on Education Reform (PWPER) on the proposed transfer of the function of management of Early Childhood Development Education (ECDE) teachers from the county government to the national government.
Led by their General Secretary Roba Duba, the Kenya County Government Workers Union (KCGWU) opposed the recommendation as it would work against the gains so far made by the counties in streamlining the sector.
“It may require a referendum to revert this function to the national government which would not be economically feasible considering the current state of the economy,” he said.
Duba said the management of the ECDE schools came with a lot of challenges for the counties ranging from lack of funding to mismanagement of the same from the counties.
According to him, most counties have made huge strides in improving the management of these important institutions over the years since devolution.
“The Council of Governors came up with a Scheme of Service that clearly provides for terms and conditions of service for ECDE teachers. Most counties have since rolled out the same which has greatly improved the running of these institutions and the welfare of the teachers,” added Duba.
The devolved units’ workers lobby argues that the main challenge remains funding of institutions which has greatly hampered counties’ ability to implement the changes required to ensure their success.
They argue that counties are best placed to run the ECDE schools with proper and timely funding.
“We urge Parliament to ensure that counties are funded to ensure the smooth running of the pre-primary institutions to avoid reversing the gains so far made,” said Duba.
Duba, who was flanked by his deputy John Ndunda and national treasurer Tom Kang’ethe also backed CoG in their recent demand of additional funding to the tune of Sh459 billion that would further go a long way in strengthening devolution.
“Devolution has so far achieved a lot and further financing with strict accountability would ensure the uplifting of the livelihoods of millions of Kenyans within the counties,” said Kang’ethe.
In their raft of demands, the lobby also now wants the government to employ cost of living adjustment measures to cushion workers against the high cost of living.
“The cost of living has escalated to the highest levels in the recent past; employees have not been spared either and subjected to a vicious circle of poverty as a result of the punitive tax regime.”
The push by the organisation comes in the wake of governors’ protest that no deal has been struck between the State and county governments to facilitate the transfer of the management of early childhood development and education centres (ECDE) to the national government.
The Governors’ sentiments follow a recent announcement by Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu in which the minister revealed that primary school head teachers will take charge of the centres, effective January 2024.
Should the move be implemented, the centres, which have been under the jurisdiction of county governments since the inception of devolution, will be transferred to the national government.
In a letter penned to CS Machogu dated December 28, CoG chair Anne Waiguru underscored that the ECDEs are within the domain of counties, and there hasn’t been any formal provision to alter the existing arrangement.