A year later, teachers yet to master new system

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha reads along with a pupil from Kakamega Primary School last month. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

The quality of teacher training conducted by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) has been the subject of debate among unions and the teachers themselves.

It is now emerging that most teachers cannot correctly interpret the curriculum designs, thus end up suggesting learning activities that burden parents.

For instance, some teachers only allocate one lesson to cover a topic that is designed to be adequately covered in 10 lessons.

It also emerged that some teachers do not consult the teachers’ handbook to get first-hand instructions to guide them when covering the lessons.

“You cannot use the curriculum designs without the teachers’ handbook. The two go hand in hand and this must be clear to all teachers,” said Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) director Jwan Julius.

Dr Jwan said all trained teachers have the capacity to properly interpret the designs, and noted that the ongoing training sessions are only meant to ‘re-orient them’.

“Teachers are trained on various ways of teaching, not on what curriculum to base their teaching. Therefore, in training the teachers on CBC, we are not telling them anything they do not already know,” said the director.

TSC Chief Executive Officer Nancy Macharia said last year, 106,320 teachers were trained in an exercise that ended in December.

The CEO said out of the participants, 7,000 teachers were drawn from special needs education schools while nearly 18,000 teachers were from private schools.

“By the end of the exercise, the country will have 228,000 teachers trained on CBC,” she said.

But interviews with some of the teachers who attended the training revealed that they did not get adequate time to interact with the content. Others said some of the trainers were ill-prepared to teach them.

In another case, teachers at a training centre in western Kenya said a dispute arose over their living conditions and allowances, which lasted the duration of the one-week session.

“There was no training at all because teachers felt shortchanged over allowances. During the entire period, no one was interested in the classes,” said one public primary school teacher.

The teachers also claimed that despite the TSC allocating a lot of money for the exercise, they never received the entire amount.

“Most training sessions are conducted in schools and all the money is sent to the institutions to go towards food and accommodation in some cases. Teachers only get about Sh1,500 as transport allowance,” said the teacher.

The National Treasury normally gives Sh500 to the TSC for every training session.

“We do not see that money; it is handled by CSOs (curriculum support officers). What we receive is only reimbursement for transport. Remember, we have no choice but to attend the trainings,” said another teacher in Kilifi.

Both the Kenya National Union of Teachers and the Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers have said teacher training remains a challenge that must be addressed adequately.

Interviews with officials at the KICD and TSC revealed that training gaps exist, which slow down the teachers’ understanding on what is expected of them.

It emerged that the CSOs, whose core mandate is to support teachers, are often diverted to undertake other functions that are not directly linked to curriculum support.

Also, the quality assurance staff rarely fulfill their mandate to regularly visit schools to monitor learning progress.

The curriculum implementation advisory task force is expected to decide whether teachers will require fresh training or if they will only need to be re-oriented to adapt to the new curriculum.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education has suspended certificate training for teachers and adopted diploma level of training. Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha said the first group of diploma teachers will be admitted to various colleges this year.

Pre-service training

“For sustainable capacity development of teachers under the CBC, and to improve the quality of education, the government has revised the lowest pre-service teacher training qualification from certificate (P1) to diploma level,” said Prof Magoha.

The scrapping of certificate courses is a major statement in the CBC roll-out, whose implementation moved to Grade Four this year.

Magoha said the teachers will be trained specifically on how to teach pupils under the CBC, adding that the curriculum for this new level of training had been completed.

The CS also directed all universities offering education courses to align teacher training to the needs of the new curriculum.

“Every university in Kenya, both public and private, is involved in the CBC. Kenyatta University is first among equals because it was the original university for education and so all institutions are part of this.”