• Teacher education is an academic undertaking in which student teachers go through a systematic programme.
• Any teacher who has gone through a teacher education programme is already generally aware of the concepts of competency based teaching
Education CS Prof George Magoha launched the Kenya National Curriculum Policy at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development on May 15.
Among the recommendations in the document is to develop and implement a national Teacher Education policy.
During the launch, the CS invited Kenyans to give suggestions on the implementation of the CBC. I offer some insights on how we could re-organise the teacher education sector.
Simply defined, teacher education is an academic undertaking in which student teachers go through a systematic programme involving the development of competencies in professionalism, content, pedagogy and attitudes/values for the levels of learners they are intended to facilitate.
It is one of the critical pillars in the realisation of any curriculum, hence requires to be conceptualised extremely carefully.
It ought to entail academic principles and techniques required to facilitate desired competencies of the learners at the various levels.
In the 21st Century, teacher education ought to produce a reflective teacher – one who is able to critically analyse the expected learning outcomes, the learner characteristics, the institutional and geographical context of the learning process, available resources and the time available.
Then, he or she should be able to construct the best way to teach in the circumstances.
Indeed, teacher education scholarship focuses on teacher cognition — the mental constructs that empower a tutor to function successfully in diverse learning situations.
In Kenya, teacher education takes place at various levels and offers various programmes — Early Childhood Development and Education (ECDE), Primary Teacher Education (PTE), Diploma in Secondary Teacher Education (DSTE), Diploma in Special Education (ESE), Bachelor’s Degrees in Education (B.Ed.) Bachelor of Arts (or Science) degree with Education (BAE or BSE), and
Post-graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE). The Entry into the ECDE programme is a D+, entry into PTE is C Plain while the qualification for the Bachelors Programme is a minimum of C+ grade, with C+ in at least two teaching subjects offered in the Kenyan curriculum.
We could reorganise the levels of teacher education to include the following: One, Diploma in Early Years and Primary Teacher Education (DEYPTE); two, Diploma in Secondary Teacher Education (DSTE): three Diploma in Technical Teacher Education (DTTE); three Diploma in Special Needs Teacher Education (DSNETE) and four, Bachelors Degree in Education (B. Ed).
The Diploma programmes in teacher and special education are more or less straightforward and could be offered more or less as organised now.
Due to space constraints, I will not discuss them here. I also spare discussion of the Bachelors in Education programme because it has been a subject of an article I wrote earlier (see The Star Newspaper on Saturday, May 17). Let me briefly explain proposals for the first two levels listed above.
Diploma in Early Years and Primary Teacher Education (DEYPTE): Research has shown Early Years and Primary Teacher Education could be competently handled as one programme because the learners involved span from age four to 12, when there is a very regular and consistent cognitive and behavioural developmental pattern that is important for all teachers of children to understand.
My interviews with teachers, at the pre-primary and primary levels show tutors wish for flexibility of movement between the two levels, depending on interest, availability of job opportunities (either at the counties, TSC and even abroad), and maximal utilisation of staff.
In addition, most early childhood/pre-primary programmes are usually located within primary schools or adjacent to them and are mostly sponsored by the same communities/ and or churches or private organisations.
Indeed, many schools have integrated administrative structures for both the pre-primary and primary units. This kind of training will enable more cohesion and maximal utilisation of the competencies of the teaching and support staff.
Considering the current renewed confidence in KCSE results, Kenya could consider placing the entry grade for this level of teachers to C- (Minus) but with at least a C plain in English being the medium of instruction, and at least a D+ in Mathematics to enable them to facilitate numeracy.
This way, we shall be giving room to some potentially talented teachers who may not have done very well in KCSE to re-discover themselves and progress from that point. These teachers should train to teach all learning areas/subjects at the pre-primary and primary levels, as is the current practice.
Diploma in Secondary Teacher Education (DSTE): In the context of CBC, we could have this level of Teacher Education mainly target Junior Secondary Level. These teachers will actually have specialised in particular subjects that they could facilitate even at senior secondary levels.
Second, while some junior secondary schools may be established separately from senior schools, in CBC, we need to anticipate situations where some schools will host these two levels and could make maximal utilisation of Diploma teachers and Bachelors graduates.
We can also anticipate situations where some schools initially offering junior secondary level education will be approved to start offering senior school options and some of these teachers will be handy. The entry grade for this cadre of teachers could stay at C Plain in KCSE with at least a C Plain in English, and of course C+ in at least two teaching subjects.
The entry grades suggested above of C Minus and C Plain, for DEYPTE and DSTE respectively, upon attaining their teacher education certificates should qualify them to join universities (if they wish) to u-grade to the Bachelors level, with relevant unit waivers.
In view of the proposals so far given, I suggest that the junior secondary school could be placed within some of the existing secondary schools, particularly those that have emerged in the last 10 years, popularly referred to as CDF schools. This is because they have been largely supported by the Constituency Development Funds.
Today, for every four to five primary Schools, there is one “CDF” secondary school. It is noteworthy that just about 15 years ago, these CDF secondary schools were probably the only primary schools serving their communities. This means these schools will still allow for the day school programmes proposed by the government as most learners can commute to and from their homes comfortably. Most of these schools also lack the resources required to offer the pathways expected at senior school in CBC.
From the educational psychology point of view, learners would feel promoted if they relocate from their Year Six primary school compounds, to join secondary schools, even if the new institutions are just in their neighborhood, as most of them are anyway. Yet, this will still allow for the 100 per cent transition government policy. We could still consider some of the current primary schools with existing separate blocks (sometimes compounds for upper classes such as Standards Six to Eight.
The last point I wish to raise regards to the reorientation of in-service teachers. I reiterate that any teacher who has gone through a teacher education programme is already generally aware of the concepts of competency based teaching such as an emphasis on learning outcomes, focus on learner ability to perform specific relevant and appropriate tasks, participatory learning and formative assessment that appreciates individual learner effort and achievement.
In the context of CBC, it is clearly necessary that teachers get re-orientated in terms of the philosophy of the new curriculum and the attendant pedagogical and assessment approaches. However, the re-orientation is basically aimed at re-tooling tutors on the key departures between the two programmes and not to attempt to train them specifically for CBC as some people argue.
In collaboration with other relevant agencies, KICD needs to develop a curriculum design for in-service re-orientation of the teachers in employment that will be incrementally attained, preferably within the next two holidays (in August and December), complete with evaluation and certification processes.
A one-week intensive module (one every holiday during the year), with provisions for within-the term-portfolio, would serve the purpose. This could include college tutors and educated but unemployed teachers.
The suggestions for in-service teacher re-orientation above could be done in stages as the implementation of CBC progresses from the EYE to other levels of Education.
Dr Ong’ondo is a teacher Educator at Moi University