Retooling in-service teachers is inevitable to increase the nation's competitive advantage

Teachers must be retooled to be in tandem with the changing education needs of learners and the world today. [Courtesy: NABU]

The country's education system is currently on a reform path, a move geared towards improving the human capital index and quality of life.

Kenya has been making strides in providing quality education, which is not only a constitutional right but also guided by Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG), calling for inclusive and equitable education that promotes lifelong learning opportunities for all. 

As this happens, the teacher aspect has to be well taken care of, whereby, they must be retooled to be in tandem with the changing education needs of learners and the world today.

The Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms (PWPER) report made critical recommendations on retooling teachers, especially now that the country is transiting to a Competency Based Curriculum (CBC), with only five classes left under the 8-4-4 system.

To attract, develop and retain effective teachers, PWPER calls for the need to have a one-year mandatory retooling program for all graduates of pre-service training to be CBC compliant and a one-year mandatory internship program upon completion of pre-service training before being registered into the teaching profession.

Already, the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) has a retooling programme to keep tutors up to date with the CBC pedagogy. 

According to TSC, a multi-agency approach has been used to retool at least 229,000 primary school teachers and 55,125 others for Junior Secondary Schools so far, in a bid to ensure the successful implementation of CBC.

This means the total number of teachers retooled for CBC represents 82 per cent of the total number of teachers employed and the Commission continues to run the training programme to cover all of them.

Similarly, the Commission has already rolled out remote learning as an innovative strategy for alternative modes of curriculum implementation and sensitized 163,938 teachers.

It is important to put emphasis on the teachers’ professional knowledge, engagement in the teaching service and effective curriculum implementation.

This is critical because it will ensure the acquisition of competencies, skills, values, and attitudes for effective CBC implementation and assessment. 

At the same time, the Teacher Professional Development (TPD) courses, which are formal trainings that registered teachers are required by law to undertake in order to continuously improve their pedagogical skills, management skills and learner outcomes, are running.

This means that the dynamic nature of education requires teachers to continue learning beyond the pre-service training as part of building capacity development and to cope with emerging trends.

With the country embracing continuous retooling, there will be a greater impact on both teachers and learners and in the long run, the country’s national development will be boosted to even greater heights.

But as this happens, there is also a need to fully embrace technological advancements to ensure effective curriculum delivery, a concept that CBC highly recognizes.

The country requires an attractive and teaching workforce to promote lifelong learning and in-service training is a critical aspect, which promotes their continuous improvement.

To make the programme even more impactful, training should be short, adequately funded and teacher-friendly.

 Every country is looking forward to responding to the demands of the 21st century, which requires an innovative human capacity and revitalising the teaching profession will ensure quality, equity and relevance at all levels of education.

Teachers should be well equipped with changing trends of teaching and class management, while at the same time inculcating a tech-friendly model because it is impossible to separate technology and education.

In a world where the education system is shifting to remote learning, with so many digital apps which have developed and become so popular, teachers should have access to more of them.

For instance, the NABU app, which is a tech-enabled publisher of multilingual children’s books, is timely and goes a long way in incorporating the CBC indigenous language dynamics.

Again, these apps are not only easier and comfortable for students but also provide features to enhance teacher-learner engagement.

This way, teachers have access to new teaching methods for instance puzzles, assessments and games, which also boost the thought processes and enhance problem-solving skills.

The writer, Beryl Oywer, is the Country Manager at NABU.