The decades-old policy on house allowances for teachers pegs the payment on a teacher’s area of service.
The employer, Teachers Service Commission (TSC), has prescribed four regional categories: The capital city, Nairobi; other cities and large towns like Mombasa, Kisumu, Malindi and Naivasha; county headquarters, such as Nyeri, Eldoret, Kericho, Kakamega, Garissa, Kisii and Nakuru; and the rest of the country.
Accordingly, teachers in Nairobi get more than double the amount paid to their colleagues in the rest of the country. For example, Grade C2 (Job Group K equivalent) teachers in Nairobi take home Sh16,500 in house allowances while the rest earn Sh7,500. Nairobi C3 (JG L) teachers are paid Sh35,000 and the rest Sh15,400. The gaps are even bigger at higher grades.
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Any policy that begets such grotesque inequalities is not only unfair but flies in the face of sound human resource management principles. It is also illegal. Article 27 (3) of the Constitution, as read with Art. 43 (b), unambiguously prohibits discrimination and provides the right to decent housing.
Teachers’ right to decent housing can be weighed on a number of legitimate parameters — such as work experience, family size and special needs — but certainly not work station.
Set when municipalities provided the bulk of housing for public servants in urban areas, the policy has become counter-productive to national education policies. Rent by the (defunct) Nairobi City Council was considerably higher than in the municipalities.
With the vast majority of Kenyans living on their farms, rural public schools tried their best to provide staff housing while landlords charged rents that teachers could afford.
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