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Inside the controversial teacher retraining plan

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Teachers during a training session at Homa Bay Primary School on April 23, 2019. PHOTO | GEORGE ODIWUOR | NMG

Summary

  • While most agree with the spirit of the programme, its implementation has split opinions with the cost implication being a concern.
  • The programme targets all TSC registered teachers in both primary and secondary schools.
  • The Kenya Institute of Management-Kemi has also been playing a major role in training teachers on administrative and career development courses.

While teacher professional development programmes are practiced globally and believed to instill continuous skills, the recently launched programme by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) has attracted mixed reactions.

While some teachers have been calling for the suspension of the programme, others want the employer to provide funding, and another group is pushing the period of the in-service training reduced.

According to the TSC Teacher Professional Development (TPD) Framework, the purpose of the programme is to continuously equip and improve teachers’ skills, competencies and knowledge for enhanced learning outcomes in Kenyan schools.

“On successful completion of the prescribed TPD course for a particular level in the professional career path, every teacher shall be issued with a teaching certificate renewable every five years,” reads the framework.

The programme targets all TSC registered teachers in both primary and secondary schools.

TSC says the programme will not only improve the quality of learner achievement but will also revitalise the teaching profession.

The employer adds that the programme will enable the profession to re-establish its professional standing and role in advancing societal needs and help teachers to keep in touch with the current educational thinking in order to maintain and develop good practice.

The commission’s framework says the introduction of the TPD in the country is a departure from the traditional approach of acquisition of knowledge and skills to an integrated approach of acquisition of pedagogical content knowledge competencies by teachers that will lead to enhanced learning outcomes.

“The TPD framework is based on the Kenya Professional Teaching Standards (KePTS) which require the teacher to acquire competencies that will enhance 21st-century learning outcomes in Kenya,” reads the TSC’s TPD framework.

While launching the rollout of the programme, TSC Chief Executive Nancy Macharia said the commission wants to ensure that the teaching profession is aligned to other professions such as law, engineering and medicine that students are required to do professional courses get and renew their licences.

The commission has signed agreements with four institutions of higher learning to train teachers which include, Mount Kenya University, Kenyatta University, Riara University and the Kenya Education Management Institute (Kemi).

According to the contracts, teachers will be required to pay a Sh6, 000 training fee annually which will be inclusive of all the training sessions, assessment, reporting and all other associated costs incurred in carrying out the described service.

The methodology of offering the modules will take a minimum of 42.5 hours of professional development consisting of five face-to-face sessions, two online sessions and blended learning.

All the sessions will be carried out during the school holidays.

The face-to-face sessions will be for a minimum of 40 hours per week and will be undertaken at all sub-county training centres across the country.

The TPD frameworks show that the design and structure of the programme will focus on subject knowledge, pedagogy and improvement in classroom practice.

TPDs programmes elsewhere

“The TPD programme is structured into six sequential levels that will enable teachers to undertake programmes at different times during their entire teaching career that spans 25 to 30 years. Each level will take five years,” reads the framework.

A single chapter will take one year to be completed meaning that to complete a module a teacher will take five years.

According to TSC, the programme is also aligned with global trends that show that majority of teachers have had opportunities to attend well-developed and thought-out workshops on how to transform teaching and learning.

In countries such as Finland, teachers' collective agreements on working conditions regulate teachers' obligation to participate in professional development for three days each school year.

Assessment and reporting

The teachers' professional development programmes inclusive of in-service training are funded by the Finland teachers employers such as municipalities

The National Board of Education is also responsible for funding, Monitoring and promoting teacher professional development.

In Thailand, continued professional development for teachers is also seen as a key element to improving teachers' quality in the country.

“A teacher entering the TPD at level one will be required to complete five chapters of module one in order to be certified and progress to level two. This will also inform teacher career progression,” says the TSC framework.

The TPD programme will adopt two dimensions; the Teacher Performance Appraisal and Development (TPAD) and Modules prescribed by the commission.

Each module will contain five chapters which include, professionalism, pedagogy and competency-based curriculum and inclusive Education practices, Assessment and reporting, comprehensive school health Safety and Financial literacy skills and instructional leadership for teachers.

The teachers will earn 40 marks by fully participating in the Teacher Performance Appraisal and Development (TPAD) and 60 marks from the TPD modules.

“Upon commencement of the TPD programme, all serving teachers will be required to acquire Teaching Certificate renewable every five years,” says TSC

A teacher who fails to undertake the modules will face the risk of being deregistered.

The commission has, however, made it clear that it will not pay for the teachers' training.

“TPD is a professional responsibility and mandatory for every teacher. Therefore, it is the duty of the teacher to meet the cost of TPD as is the case in other professions,” says the TSC framework.

The TSC says it will only play the role of overseeing the implementation of the TPD in the country while the commission’s secretary will provide strategic leadership in the TPD process among other roles of ensuring the programme is institutionalised in all educational institutions.

Section 35 of the TSC Act 2012 on compliance with teaching standards stipulates that the commission shall take all necessary steps to ensure that persons in the teaching service comply with the standards prescribed by the commission.

The law requires every registered teacher to undertake career progression and professional development programmes as prescribed by the commission.

Parliamentary petition

However, the rollout of the programme has been opposed by teachers who claim the TPD should be fully funded by the commission.

A petition is pending before the parliament sponsored by the Kenya Union of Post Primary Teachers (Kuppet) and sponsored by the union Chair Amboko Milemba.

Mr Milemba says as much as TPD is anchored in law, the commission should take up the role of meeting costs.

“We are asking the Parliament if it is possible to provide funds to the TSC to ensure teachers will not have to pay,” urges Mr Milemba.

Kuppet Secretary-General Akelo Misori is of the view that TSC is fully mandated in law to offer TPD and what needs to be done is for the commission to consider funding the programme.

The Kenya Union of Teachers (Knut) secretary-general Collins Oyuu has, however, been asking teachers to stay calm and avoid being misguided.

“There is need to engage teachers further and explain the TPD programme which has received a backlash since it rolled out,” says Mr Oyuu.

Both the Kenya primary schools heads association(Kepsha) chair Johnstone Nzioka and the Kenya Secondary schools heads Association (Kessha) Kahi Indimuli term the programme as beneficial to teachers.

Career progression guidelines

Mr Indimuli says while teachers have no problem with undergoing a professional course, the programme should be explained further to reduce the debate around it.

“The TPD’s are provided for under the career progression guidelines and what is missing among teachers is misinformation,” says Mr Indimuli.

The career progression guidelines were established in 2018.

TPDs were also acknowledged by the teachers' unions in the 2021 -2025 collective bargaining agreement signed on July 13.

Before the introduction of the TPD, teachers were required to do in-service training offered by the Centre for Mathematics, Science and Technology Education (Cemastea).

The institution has been offering in-service training for teachers at both primary and secondary school levels on science subjects.

The Kenya Institute of Management-Kemi has also been playing a major role in training teachers on administrative and career development courses.

Teachers have also been undergoing in-service training during school holidays for the Competency-Based curriculum.

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