The teachers’ employer has identified key learning areas that it recommends universities and colleges to introduce in their teacher training in preparation for the rollout of the Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) in junior and senior school.
In an advisory to the Ministry of Education, the CEO of the Teachers Service Commission (TSC), Dr Nancy Macharia said the alignment of the training programmes by universities and private colleges is intended to equip teachers with requisite skills, in line with the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development Basic Education Framework.
“The purpose of this letter is to submit the commission’s advisory on teacher preparation and requirements to facilitate a smooth implementation of junior and senior school curriculum delivery,” said Dr Macharia in a letter dated July 30 addressed to the principal secretary for the State Department for University Education and Research, Simon Nabukwesi.
It is copied to the PS for Implementation of Curriculum, Prof Fatuma Chege, the CEO of the Commission for University Education, Prof Mwenda Ntarangwi, and vice chancellors of universities that train teachers.
According to the TSC, the new learning areas that universities need to give special attention include pre-technical and pre-vocational education, life skills, agriculture and health education.
Optional subjects include indigenous languages, Kenya Sign Language, visual arts, and performing arts. It further identifies various subjects where skills gaps exist, such as leatherwork, Mandarin, woodwork technology, plumbing and ceramics.
To implement the teaching of some of the learning areas, there is a need to retool teachers in home science and biology to facilitate learning in health education, social studies to include content on citizenship and sports and physical education to include the aspect of sports and health introduced in the learning areas, added Dr Macharia.
“We advise and recommend that the teacher education curriculum should be flexible and aligned to enable one to teach and instruct a variety of subjects,” she said.
This is a departure from the current practice where secondary teacher trainees specialise in only two teaching subjects.
The commission has not yet begun training secondary school teachers in service for the CBC despite the fact that the pioneer class, now in Grade Five will be moving to Grade Seven (the first junior secondary school class) in January 2023. It is expected that more teachers will be required in secondary schools when the curriculum is fully implemented.
To alleviate the perennial shortage of teachers and reasonably meet the demand of teachers in the country, TSC has recommended that universities be appropriately informed about the new subject areas to guide their admission of students pursuing teacher education to meet the projected demands.
“The commission is expected to project teacher demand levels and appropriate areas of focus that will inform the strategies for training and preparation of teachers who will be available and ready to handle the junior and secondary learning,” she said.
Recently, the commission stoked debate on its role when it sent a document to universities advising them to scrap the Bachelor of Education degree which has been in place since 1970. It recommended that teacher trainees undertake either a three-year Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science, study three teaching subjects and later take a post-graduate diploma in education.
The proposal, which drew opposition from some universities, is still awaiting stakeholder engagement and approval from the Commission for University Education.
Speaking to the Nation a week ago, Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) chief executive Charles Ong’ondo said universities should be able to churn out graduate teachers with relevant skills to handle learners in junior and senior secondary.
“We call upon universities to ensure their teacher training programmes are aligned with the CBC,” said Prof Ong’ondo.
According to the KICD basic education framework, all learners in junior secondary will learn the same subjects but will branch off to one of the pathways in senior secondary. The pathways include arts and sports science, social sciences, and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem).