Jobless teachers flood streets as colleges attract fresh entrants

Number of unemployed teachers threatens to surpass those employed by year end

In Summary

•Absorption fails to match those turned out. 

•Women trainees continued to represent the highest proportion of enrolled trainees. 

Teachers engage in shouting matches at the Kenya Primary Schools Heads Association conference in Mombasa, August 13, 2018.
Teachers engage in shouting matches at the Kenya Primary Schools Heads Association conference in Mombasa, August 13, 2018.

More students are seeking to become teachers even as numbers of unemployed teachers threatens to surpass those in classrooms.

The Economic Survey 2019 released in Nairobi yesterday reveals an upward trend in enrollment of students to Teacher Training Institutions for both P1 and Diploma courses.

Over five years, the numbers seeking diplomas rose from 39,853 in 2014 to 42,351 in 2018; those in P1 surged from 21,214 in 2014 to 22,231 in 2018. 

Of concern is that the number of graduates will bloat the profession as the absorption fails to match those turned out.

Teachers Service Commission boss Nancy Macharia says the number of unemployed teachers threatens to surpass those employed by the end of this year.

Data from the TSC indicates that 216,517 teachers are in primary schools and 100,493 in secondary schools, totalling 317,010 teachers in service.

The number of unemployed trained teachers stands at 309,000 this year. 

The TSC employs about 5,000 teachers annually.

Even if the commission absorbs teachers and meets the shortage, the TSC acknowledges most of the teachers will remain out of service as the shortfall stands slightly above 100,000.

Women trainees continued to represent the highest proportion of trainees enrolled. 

Universities headache

Meanwhile, three years after anti-cheating measures were adopted in secondary schools, the effects have hit universities where general enrollment has declined. 


However, the story is different for  TVET institutions which grew by 32.3 per cent to 363,884 last year. 

This largely attributed to the free education students are enjoying in the institutions following a list of incentives including government capitation and loans.

The program began last year and has seen the numbers increase from the previous 284,506 school fees in TVET institutions currently stands at Sh56,420.

The government will provide Sh30,000 capitation for each TVET trainee.

The learners in technical and vocational institutions will receive as much as Sh40,000 loans annually from Helb enough to pay their fees and some extra for their upkeep.

Ironically, this comes as the number of learners graduating from secondary schools increased over the same period.

The Economic Survey 2019 released yesterday by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics paints this picture showing a decline by 8,874 students.

This represented a 1.7 per cent decline from 522,057 students in 2017.

The declining enrollment has further had a ripple effect forcing the institutions to downsize while others closed off some satellite public and private university campuses.

The report indicates the number of public university campuses reduced from 168 to 111 last year. 

The drop in numbers of students is further expected to put jobs of hundreds of lecturers and non-teaching staff at risk should the trend recur in the coming years.

Ironically, the number of universities in the country and degree programmes offered have increased over the three years.

The economic survey indicates between 2016 and last year, the number of universities increased from 60 to 63 while the university degree programmes substantially increased to 4,063 from 2,807.

Further, institutions seeking to be turned to universities have also increased with at least 14 institutions operating with letters of an interim authority.

Last year, two universities got to this pool.

A university is expected to operate not more than eight years with the letter of an interim authority.

The ripple effect of the decline in the number of enrollment is the decline in self-sponsored degree learners leading to financial problems.

The result of this mix of events has been a downsizing of campuses, disposing of assets, laying off staff, deterioration of services amid recurrent industrial action by lecturers and workers holding their cash-strapped employers by the neck.

Higher education in Kenya has traditionally, been like a sieve only favouring good performers to move to university and leaving the future of millions of children in limbo.

This has led to a lack of skills among many youths consequently leading to high unemployment levels in the country.

(Edited by R.Wamochie)