The decline in the number of students joining teachers’ colleges in the last two years is worrying. According to the Education ministry, 9,349 teacher trainees applied to join the colleges despite the availability of a projected 10,735 slots. In the diploma colleges, 650 applied yet the target was 786.
What has sparked concern is the fact that previously these institutions used to turn away prospective applicants due to the high demand.
The drop has been linked to the low absorption rate in the job market and the lowering of university entry level mark to the same grade required to join the teachers’ colleges offering diplomas.
It is shocking that some of these institutions have empty spaces despite the massive investment that has been injected into them.
It is also puzzling that despite the institutions churning out trainees there are still reports about shortage in local institutions. This gap needs to be sorted out quickly.
According to the Teachers Service Commission, the sector has a shortage of 40,972 in primary schools while secondary schools need 63,849 teachers.
With the planned rollout of the new curriculum, the government must hasten efforts to plug this shortfall.