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Deliberate on teacher training admission grades objectively

ALEXANDER CHAGEMA
By Alexander Chagema | October 5th 2018

The quality of education has a direct relationship with the calibre of teachers who facilitate it. Thus, for optimal results, a country must invest heavily in education and peg the threshold for admission to teacher training colleges on a standard that is not considered too low.

In latest developments, the Kenya National Qualifications Authority (KNQA), which is the Government agency mandated to set minimum training standards, has sparked a row with the Teacher Service Commission and other stakeholders in the education sector over the lowering of entry grades to teacher training colleges. The authority's minimum entry point for a certificate course is a grade D, while grade C- is the requirement for diploma courses.

On the other hand, a report prepared by the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development proposes the scrapping of certificate courses and pegs the entry point for trainee teachers at grade C for primary schools and B- for secondary schools.  

Concerns by TSC, parents-teachers associations and the Kenya Private Schools Association that lower entry points will inundate the teaching profession with individuals lacking capacity and motivation to excel are valid. In a country with high unemployment rates and where ‘anything goes’ as long as one is able to put food on the table, these concerns cannot be ignored.

Teaching is a vocation and it must remain as such. The country cannot afford to turn it into a field where people whose sights are elsewhere can while away their time as they wait for other opportunities.

The central role education plays in any country’s development cannot be gainsaid. A competent education system capable of producing the best has the potential to grow any country’s economy.

That said, let us guard against setting grades as the absolute determiner of one’s ability to become a teacher. A number of students who performed poorly in their examinations at primary and secondary school levels have moved on to become some of the best minds in different fields.

Some students fail national exams because they panicked while doing them. Others come from troubled backgrounds that negatively impact their studies. But such situations can be overcome. And because the Constitution frowns on discrimination of any kind, mechanisms should be established for determining who, despite low grades, can be trained as a teacher and later meet expectations.

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