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Special Report: Retired Teachers in Kenya finally receive Sh16.08 Billion in delayed pension payments

Big relief for retired teachers in Kenya as Sh16bn pension paid at last. The government has finally paid retired teachers Sh16.08 billion in delayed pension after over two decades of clamour, Edugist learnt.
TSC boss Nancy Macharia (left) appears with Legal Director Cavin Anyuor before the Senate Committee on Education over payment of pensions for retired teachers at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi on May 4, 2023. Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group
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After Over Two Decades, Kenya Government Settles Longstanding Pension Claims for 22,022 Retired Teachers…

The government of Kenya has brought relief to retired teachers by disbursing a total of Sh16.08 billion in long-overdue pension payments. This significant development comes after a protracted legal battle spanning over two decades Edugist learnt.

National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndung’u confirmed that the amount has been allocated to cover revised pension claims for 22,022 teachers who retired between 1998 and 2003. The Ministry of Treasury has received a total of 23,487 revised claims from the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) pertaining to these retirees. The enhanced pension emoluments were initially awarded to the teachers by the High Court in Nakuru on October 28, 2008. Subsequently, the government pursued unsuccessful appeals in both the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court’s ruling on December 9, 2015, denied the government’s application for a review of the Court of Appeal’s decision, leaving them with no alternative but to fulfill the pension obligations. As of now, the remaining 1,465 claims are in the process of being reviewed and processed by the Treasury.

The affected retirees were those who retired between 1997 and 2007, who did not benefit from the enhanced pay accorded in a 1997 agreement. These individuals had only received one out of the five designated phases of the agreement due to financial constraints faced by the government at the time. One of the retired teachers, Mr. Philip Too, took the matter to the Senate, highlighting the outstanding claims for teachers who retired during this period, which remained unpaid for close to two decades.

The blame for the delayed payments was shifted back and forth between the TSC and the Treasury. However, TSC boss Nancy Macharia recently testified before the Senate Education Committee, stating that all necessary paperwork had been completed and submitted to the Treasury to facilitate the payments.

The initial payment agreement between the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) and the government was established through Legal Notice 534 of 1997. It stipulated that the salary award would be disbursed in five phases over five years, with the final phase scheduled for 2001. However, the government implemented only the first phase in 1997. In 2003, a new agreement was reached to distribute the arrears over ten years, starting from 2003. The number of phases was subsequently reduced to six, and then to five in a 2007 agreement, to be implemented within six years. This led to a protracted court battle that lasted until all legal avenues were exhausted by the government.

It is important to note that the pension benefits, as per the court order, apply only to those teachers who retired without receiving their salary awards according to the specified phases in the agreement. Any teacher who retired after July 2003 received their respective phases and had their pension benefits appropriately paid.

The Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) Secretary-General, Akelo Misori, has called upon Members of Parliament to exert pressure on the Treasury to expedite the payment process. Knut Secretary-General Collins Oyuu expressed his dismay, emphasizing that the retirees have endured the hardship of being destitute for an extended period, despite the National Assembly approving the allocation of resources to address their predicament. During the budget of the financial year that ended in June 2012, the government had allocated Sh3.3 billion to address the benefit requirements of the affected teachers.

Pay agreement: A Reportage from Nation Media Group,Kenya.

Knut had entered into a payment agreement with the government in 1997 through Legal Notice 534 of 1997. The salary award was to be paid in five phases over five years with the last phase in 2001.

The government implemented only the first phase in 1997. In 2003, the teachers and the government renegotiated and signed a new deal to have the government pay the arrears over 10 years starting in 2003. But, later that year, the two parties agreed to reduce the 10 phases to six, then later five in a 2007 agreement, implemented within six years. A court battle ensued, dragging on until the government exhausted all judicial avenues.However, Prof Ndung’u clarified that the teachers entitled to benefit under the court order are those who retired without earning their respective salary awards as per the phases contained in the agreement.

He said any teacher who retired after July 2003 earned their respective phases and their pension benefits were correctly paid.

Meanwhile, Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) Secretary-General Akelo Misori has urged MPs to compel Treasury to fast-track the payments. Knut Secretary-General Collins Oyuu lamented that the retirees have been subjected to the indignity of being perpetual paupers despite the National Assembly approving the allocation of resources to the Treasury to address the teachers’ plight.He said that, during the budget of the financial year that ended in June 2012, the government allocated Sh3.3 billion towards the affected teachers’ benefit.

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