The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) plans to train teachers through Kenyatta, Riara and Mount Kenya universities and the Kenya Education Management Institute from April at a Sh6,000 yearly cost to every trainee.
But though commendable, the process has several challenges. To start with, universities in Kenya are overstretched to handle this sensitive professional exercise.
Those who have recently been in the lecture hall will attest to the fact that lecturers are overworked. For instance, a lecturer teaching common and education units will have 500 students per sitting. It is 200 to 400 students for content units.
According to the Commission for Higher Education (CUE) regulations, a lecturer should teach a mandatory of three units per week to allow them time to do research and publish. However, due to inadequate manpower, they do more than five.
One lecturer marks about 2,500 booklets, excluding part-time ones to those who have never taught. Due to high demand, they also engage in part-time teaching.
Universities are meant to ground students in theory and content. They are supposed to contribute to new knowledge through research and publication.
Because of that, lecturers may not be suitable cadre to equip practising teachers in professional capacity building.
It is worth noting also that some lecturers didn’t train as teachers or teach in school.
The second challenge is the large number of teachers that the lecturers will have to handle — more than 350,000, excluding those in private schools.
Even if it is organised in shifts and phases, the end product will be mediocre. A laissez faire atmosphere is common at universities.
Who will ensure that teachers attend lectures? We doubt if universities will change their operations to accommodate close monitoring of the teachers being trained.
CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME
However, there are solutions to this situation. To begin with, the TSC has everything and all it takes to train its employees.
It has more teachers and other staff with master’s and doctorate degrees than the number of lecturers in the institutions it is engaging. Why look elsewhere for what you have?
Hypothetically, we can assure the TSC that some teachers and secretariat staff even teach on part-time basis in the contracted universities and they will be there waiting to train the teachers.
The second and final solution is that school facilities can be used to train teachers during the holidays.
A teacher will attend the nearest facility to minimise the boarding and travelling costs. The commission will be fully in charge of the process and will monitor closely to ensure participation and identify gaps and offer solutions.
A trained teacher with higher qualifications will be more effective and create more practical session than a lecturer.
Let universities stick to their core functions of research, content and theory orientation; capacity building should be left to professional training agencies.