Some 11,000 teachers are to be recruited for primary and secondary schools starting next week.
The new teachers will be expected to report at their work stations by September, when Third Term begins, to help ease the shortage that currently stands at 75,000, according to Teachers Service Commission (TSC) boss Gabriel Lengoiboni.
“We want pupils to start reaping the benefits of the new teachers immediately,” Mr Lengoiboni said on Wednesday.
The number of teachers will for the first time be distributed almost equally between primary and post-primary institutions, he said.
Traditionally, primary schools have taken the lion’s share of vacancies owing to the fact that they have high enrolment and are many.
TSC is set to advertise the vacancies by the weekend. Applicants have until August 3 to apply for the jobs through their county directors and school boards to pave the way for interviews.
In the highest recruitment in more than two years, primary schools have been allocated 5,682 slots. The rest, 5,493 posts, have been reserved for secondary schools and public colleges.
Of the number, Mr Lengoiboni said, 1,085 would be posted to replace those who had left service through retirement, resignation and deaths.
Mr Lengoiboni said the number of secondary schools had gone up after communities set up more institutions to cater for graduates of the free primary education programme, which started in 2003.
“Communities have used the Constituency Development Fund and other initiatives to build more schools, which we must supply teachers to,” Mr Lengoiboni said in an interview.
The recently recruited TSC county directors have been asked to head the recruitment process, in a move aimed at showing the commission’s commitment to devolve its services.
According to the TSC figures, Kakamega county — with 355 slots — will recruit the highest number of primary school teachers. But this is far less than the county’s shortage of 2,404.
The slots are allocated to counties depending on how big or small the shortage is.
Counties that will recruit the highest number of teachers include Bungoma (342), Kilifi (281), Kitui (262), Homa Bay (257), Busia (252), Nakuru (245) and Siaya (240).
Nairobi county has not been allocated places at the primary school level.
Those interested in primary school jobs have been asked to apply to district panels that will shortlist candidates before submitting the lists to the county directors.
The county directors will then convene a selection panel to ratify district merit lists and compile the county merit lists for onward transmission to the TSC headquarters.
In each of the two levels, preference will be given to applicants who have not been previously employees of the TSC.
They must also have been registered by the TSC, a rule that sparked a row two years ago on the grounds it could lock out qualified but unlisted graduates.
Each teacher requires Sh500 to be registered with the TSC.
At the secondary school level, applicants with at least two teaching subjects relevant to the curriculum will be required to apply to respective school boards.
But those with special needs would be required to have at least one teaching subject and sign language or Braille.
“Candidates whose training is in subjects that are currently not in the teaching curriculum do not qualify for consideration irrespective of their having undertaken a post-graduate diploma in education,” Mr Lengoiboni said.
The TSC boss opened a window for hundreds of teachers who were previously recruited under contract terms but who were later not taken up on permanent terms last year because they were deemed unqualified.
He asked those who have since enhanced their academic qualifications to apply and be given priority in the recruitment.
Secondary school boards will be required to interview candidates and submit their results to district staffing officers for onward transmission to TSC county directors.
The directors will then forward them to the TSC headquarters.
It is expected the new recruitment will slightly ease the teacher shortage which currently stands at 75,042 in both primary and post-primary schools.
Of these, Mr Lengoiboni said, 38,468 teachers are required in primary schools.
The TSC boss said the shortage will ease to 63,957 after the current recruitment.
The commission had initially asked for a budgetary allocation to enable it recruit 40,000 teachers this year.
It would then recruit 10,000 teachers annually for five years.