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Performance contracts add no value

By Franklin Litondo | March 23rd 2016 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

NAIROBI: Performance contracts are a good thing, but they are misplaced for now. They are good because they ensure performance to the satisfaction of the employer.

But a performance contract is bad because it is focused on teachers hoping that this will improve performance and have a ripple effect on education standards in our schools.

This idea is good for systems that are homogeneous. Our schools are not homogeneous. Kenyan schools do not have similar and enough resources. Not all schools have buildings. Some have trees for classrooms.

Schools have buildings ranging from mere mud walls and mud floors with corrugated iron-roofs to concrete, well-cemented or tiled floors and well-finished walls and good roofs and ceiling.
Some schools have electricity and well equipped modern labs. Other schools have no proper or no desks in their class rooms. Learning environment in our schools is unimaginably varied.

With Free Primary Education, many schools have classes blotted with students while the population of teachers remains the same.

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Some schools have over a hundred students per teacher while others have about 50 students or less, per teacher.

The only thing that is homogeneous in schools in Kenya is the Curriculum, each designed to cater for Primary or Secondary Schools.

I have many questions: How can one think of using similar forms to appraise teachers who are working in entirely varying environments?

Why does one think that signing contracts is a priority over dilapidated infrastructures, inadequate resources, shortage of teachers, classrooms blotted with students, as it is in many schools?

Teachers have pertinent issues such as pending salary increments which have not been addressed yet they are being forced to sign performance contracts despite all these shortcomings. We have got our priorities upside down.

You don’t define a motor car’s performance just by assessing the driver’s competency. If we want to improve and standardise our education systems, we must address all the above stated shortcomings. Thereafter we can come up with well-designed and effective performance contract forms for teachers to sign.

In my opinion, this is an exercise in futility and it will not improve education standards in Kenya. There seem to be too many players in this exercise, including non-educationists.

Remember ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’. Teachers have self-assessing tools. I am talking of curriculum, lesson plans, course outlines and so on.

These are important tools to be followed if we want to improve our education systems, and teachers are aware of them. They have time lines. They do not have to sign performance contracts for schools to operate on track. Teaching is ‘a calling’ and not ‘just a job’. It must be handled carefully and soberly, lest we mess up our revered education system.

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