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We must fix what ails education sector to avoid downward spiral

Sunday January 6 2019

The Kenyan education sector is replete with controversies and confrontations. If it is not a strike threat, a massacre of some teachers in the Northern frontier or an unclear curriculum implementation, then it is Okiya Omtata heading to the courts.

Have we really thought through what ails this major sector in our development agenda? It continues to misfire despite the constant patches it is subjected to.

We must note here that Singapore has never changed its education system it inherited from the colonial master.

India, with a larger population than Africa, has continued with the system it inherited from its British masters. Closer to home, Rwanda has made great strides with a new attitude but without changing the system. They also run the advanced level system.

A few unfortunate incidents have clouded our education sector in the past three or four years. The first was the 'cant pay, wont pay' protracted strike of four years back. The government stood its ground and hustled a humiliated bunch of teachers back to class and the Teacher Performance Appraisal and Developments.

The employer forgot that teacher delivery is at the interactive level with the student and a low morale can nibble into this. The result: very good timely data to Teachers Service Commission (TSC) but very little input at the class level.

Before the dust settled on this, a new term crept into the education sector: delocalisation. It is a noble idea but if poorly implemented it can hurt some of its recipients. The first group to face this were the national school heads.

The second group were the extra county school heads and the last 3,000 movements affected even sub-county school heads. This delocalisation programme should have stopped at the county schools.

But TSC went full throttle, down to primary schools and flung teachers left and right. The best approach would have considered category of school, age of the teacher being moved and the distance.

With the controversial new curriculum setting in this year, I can only predict another downward spiral for Kenya's education sector.  The indiscipline in our schools, the cheating in exams and the low morale of teachers and lecturers are likely to compound things. We need a candid national discussion on issues education involving all stakeholders.

Moses Were, via e-mail