Teacher recruitment will be focused on secondary schools over the next five years, a fresh action plan by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) showed, an indication of the pressure caused by the government’s push for a 100 percent transition rate from primary level.
Among the proposed changes, the teachers employer is considering sharing of tutors across schools and hiring some on contract terms, revealing the staffing pressures under the new transition policy.
“One major shift that affected teacher recruitment was the government policy of 100 percent transition from primary to secondary school,” the commission says in draft 2019/2023 strategic plan.
“This has necessitated reallocation of resources to invest more in secondary school teachers.... The trend may be sustained during this plan period.”
The shift in recruitment has begun with the TSC recruiting 8,700 teachers for secondary schools in 2018 alone — nearly four times higher than the average number hired for secondary schools annually in the preceding five years.
To be able to implement strategic objectives envisioned in the 2019-2023 strategic plan the TSC estimates it will cost more than Sh11 billion.
Over the last five years, government has recruited 28,843 teachers despite the bulging student population in schools. The primary schools got 8,390 while 20,453 were for secondary schools.
As at June last year, the TSC had 317,069 teachers deployed to 30,892 public educational institutions in the country. There are 8.071 million learners in primary schools and 2.76 million at public post-primary school level.
Of these, 217,291 teachers serve in 22,263 public primary schools and 99,778 tutors are employed in 8,629 public post-primary institutions.
Teacher shortage in the country, the TSC estimates, will rise, hurting teacher-student ratio, with secondary school level tipped to feel more heat.
From the current shortage of 96,345 teachers, the TSC sees this worsening to 119,419 in 2023. Of this, 84,478 will be required for secondary schools while 34,941 will be for primary schools.
“The teacher shortage is as a result of the rapid growth in school enrolment attributable to the implementation of the free primary education and affordable day secondary school education programmes as well the establishment of new schools,” says the TSC.
Expectations on the competency-based education system rolled out has compounded the teacher shortage, adds the teachers employer.
To complement the government efforts in supply of teachers, school boards of management (BOMs) will have to employ more trained teachers outside the government payroll.
Approximately 80,000 teachers are employed by the BOMs in public primary and secondary schools, according the TSC data.
“The shortfall in the supply of teachers in the secondary school level calls for innovative approaches such as recruitment of teachers on contract basis, institutionalise the internship programme for teachers and in certain cases the sharing of teachers across schools for elective subjects,” says the TSC in the draft.
Over the last five years, a total of 195,851 qualified teachers were registered. This is a result of the employer starting online registration that has cut average time for getting registered from three months to one.
The Commission is also facing a shortage of teachers in specific subject combinations in the Humanities, Kiswahili, Physics and Computer Studies.
Further to this, the TSC says the shortage of teachers for Physics and Computer Studies has been occasioned by the mobility of these teachers to the private sector.
“All this has constrained effective delivery of the curricula and consequently, has led to poor performance by the students studying these subjects” the commission says.
The shortage escalates at a time education sector has initiated key reforms including a shift towards a competency-based education system and integration of ICT into the curriculum through the Digital Literacy Programme.
Investment in quality education is critical to the supply of skilled manpower to the economy.
The TSC is concerned that it is also facing shortage in terms of managerial and technical staff in the counties.
“This adversely affects supervision of curriculum implementation and provision of support services to teachers,” it says.
Shortage of teachers not only puts at risk the quality of workforce but also robs Kenya of an opportunity to export labour to the East African Community, Africa, and elsewhere as the world increasingly becomes a global village.