As the country rolls out the new education curriculum, the massive failure of the 2016 P1 teacher trainees continues to elicit mixed reactions. Ironically, this comes in the wake of yet another dismal performance by the 2017 KCSE candidates. It is both shocking and worrying that more than 5,000 trainees, out of the 12,000 that sat the examination in 2016, failed or were made to repeat.
It is a high time stakeholders in the education sector sought answers into what ails the teacher training in Kenya.
The World Development Report, 2018, titled, ‘Learning to Realise Education’s Promise’ paints a grim picture of the preparedness of our teacher training colleges in terms of the programmes they offer, the quality of students they admit and even the competence of the teachers who finally qualify to teach in schools.
According to the report, most Standard Two pupils in Kenya cannot perform simple reading or mathematics tasks. Very few public primary school teachers can assess children’s abilities and evaluate students’ progress.
Teachers are both developers and main curriculum implementers. They address the set goals in education, the needs and the interests of the learners by creating experiences from where students can learn.
They design, enrich and modify the curriculum to suit individual learner’s characteristics and failure to adequately prepare and this is likely to herald a false start to the new 2-6-6-3 system since the kind of teachers a system produces largely determines not only their effectiveness in handling learners but also impacts heavily on their self-confidence when they get into practice.
The teachers in the new dispensation will be required to have both subject and pedagogical knowledge.
In addition, the teachers should be ready to adopt a problem-solving approach in teaching as opposed to a topical approach, aim at becoming more creative and innovative, effectively make use of technology in their teaching; in general, the teachers need to be fast learners to keep tabs with the proposed new curriculum if they wish to remain relevant, productive and efficient in the new dispensation.
It is majorly during their training that all these can be acquired and should first be reflected in their individual performance at the end of their training.
In order to produce effective and competent teachers, teacher training programmes need to be harmonised across all the institutions.
The relevance of teacher education programmes, poor recruitment attitudes of student-teacher trainees, the training period, the availability of resources for teacher training and learning, the relevance of teacher education curriculum and the knowledge on ICT equipment and skills should also be addressed.
In 2016, school-based teacher trainees were the most affected by the poor results.
Though these programmes were meant to ensure teacher trainees are able to access training at their convenience, a review of the appropriateness of such programmes needs to be done because some of them could be more into business in total disregard of the quality of teachers they produce at the end of the two year period of training.
Without appropriate focus on the quality of teacher training, effective implementation and success of the new curriculum will turn into a pipe dream. The quality of teachers creates all the difference in learning outcomes. Proper recruitment and continuous professional development strategies must be put in place because when all is said and done, only teachers who have gone through adequate training can play an effective role in defining and implementing the curriculum.
The writer is a teacher of English and Literature at Mvita Boys High School in Mombasa County. [email protected]