Amid the heightened political activities in the preparation for elections, performance contracting for the heads of institutions and teacher appraisal reforms are gradually transforming delivery of education to children.
The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) introduced the two performance management tools in January last year to enhance the quality of teaching and ultimately improve learning in primary, and secondary schools and tertiary institutions.
The reforms are intended to build a performance-oriented culture and instil accountability in public learning institutions.
In performance contracting (PC), the heads of institutions are assessed against negotiated targets in the key management areas that have a direct impact on the quality of education offered.
They include teaching standards; curriculum organisation and implementation; supervision of staff; teaching and learning infrastructure.
Others are financial management and compliance with the law.
In teacher performance appraisal and development (TPAD), they are evaluated on pedagogy, particularly preparation and use of schemes of work, lesson plans and notes, and maintenance of learners’ progress and assessment records.
Other important areas are innovation in curriculum delivery such as integration of information communication technology, implementation of learners’ welfare programmes, participation of teachers in co-curricular activities and collaboration with parents and guardians.
From a survey carried out by the TSC recently, it is evident that save for teething challenges such as slow uptake of technology, poor Internet coverage in some areas and resource constraints, performance contracting and teacher appraisals are already having a major impact on teaching and learning in public schools and colleges.
First, there is improved time management. Because heads and other teachers have targets to achieve, and report on at the end of every term, absenteeism has considerably reduced.
Heads have become more rigorous in supervision because their targets cannot be met without teachers first delivering on their own.
They are now regularly verifying professional documents for teachers and promoting teamwork.
Even when assignments outside school or illness lead to missed classes, systems are now in place to ensure the lessons are made up for.
Learners providing feedback on attendance by teachers motivates them not to miss classes.
Every day, student leaders compile a daily summary on attendance by all teachers for accountability.
This is used by the administration to reconcile attendance records for all teachers, including the heads.
As a result, teachers are becoming increasingly sensitive to the needs of learners as their primary clients.
More teachers are preparing and using crucial professional documents such as schemes of work, lesson plans and notes and teaching aids.
Learners’ progress records are well-maintained.
There is also increased integration of information communication technology in teaching, sourcing of appropriate teaching and learning materials from the Internet, and sometimes through mobile phones.
There is evidence that a collaborative culture is developing in schools where teachers involve parents and guardians in the management of learner behaviour.
Equally important, accountability structures in the management of institutional resources have improved.
Compliance with public procurement and disposal of assets laws and regulations, through tendering, evaluation, awarding and disposal procedures is becoming entrenched.
This ensures prudent use of financial resources.
Although it is still early to tell, some heads of institutions are convinced performance contracting and appraisal is the reason for their improvement in examinations.
In order to address the teething problems cited, the commission will commit more resources to induction, training, supervision and communication infrastructure to ease implementation.
Ms Macharia is the Chief Executive Officer, Teachers Service Commission