International Panel: Bridging Policy and Practice
A Focus on Teacher Preparation
The Case of Kenya
Prepared by Beatrice Shikuku
Overview of In-service Teacher Training
In almost all countries in the world, teachers undergo formal training at university or teacher training colleges. They are assessed, graded, and sent to schools to start their teaching career. In Kenya, like in most other countries, the teachers start their teaching careers near the age of twenty-five years, and most remain in the teaching profession until they retire at approximately fifty-five years of age.
During these thirty years of teaching, many changes take place within the country, hence the need to provide in-service training for the teachers. Here in Kenya, for example, the education system has changed from 126.96.36.199 to 188.8.131.52 and now to 8.4.4, within the last twenty years. With each change in the system comes a corresponding change in the syllabus and curriculum. Every teacher, therefore, needs to update his or her training in order to cope with the changes.
There is also the question of evolving culture in our societies. Children from the same village, seated in the same classroom today would be very different from those in the same classroom thirty years ago. We have had, and will likely continue to have, changing technology, intermarriages, influences from television, and computers. Now, with cellular phones and very easy communication around the world, the forces of change may be even greater. All of these developments leave their mark on both the teacher and the learner.
There are other issues that cannot be ignored as well. Among these are global climatic change, and scientific advancements, the impact of HIV and AIDS, increased drug abuse, and the general wave of disrespect among the youth. These factors render a teacher, trained even ten years ago, almost ineffective in the school environment unless given additional support. One potential solution to this problem lies in providing in-service opportunities to teachers in order to equip them with the skills necessary to teach successfully. It is even more important that mathematics teachers participate in in-services more regularly since mathematics is at the very heart of the evolving technology and the changing culture.
In Kenya the government has launched a training program for secondary head teachers and principals to help curb the increasing number of student disturbances in schools. The program is coordinated by the Kenya Education Staff Institute (KESI). The main duty of KESI is to provide in-service training for teachers. This body has been in place for the last twenty years, and has become very active in the last five years.
KESI first focused their efforts at the heads of schools or education institutions and their deputies and provided in-services for them in several areas. Among these were school management; roles and responsibilities of head teachers, boards of governors, parents and teachers; the code of regulation for teachers; the legal provisions in education, financial management, auditing, curriculum supervision and internal inspection; guidance and counseling; and the management of national examinations. For example, the aim of one in-service is to help prepare the heads of schools to respond to students who are in need of support and/or discipline. This is a two-week course that is now compulsory for all heads of schools and their deputies. It is usually residential, and the participants pay for their accommodations and training.
After training all the heads of schools, KESI then provided in-services for the heads of departments in schools. The training for the heads of departments is not compulsory; however it is a requirement for any promotion, thus ensuring that all teachers are motivated to participate in in-service training provided by KESI. This training was geared towards the heads of science, mathematics, humanities, and others. Participants in these in-services also pay for their two-week residential training, which usually takes place during the school holidays.
While KESI deals mainly with secondary school head teachers, deputies, and heads of departments, in the primary schools, another body called "PRISM" (Primary School Management) provides similar training for the primary school heads, deputies and senior teachers. The PRISM In-service Course, is a three-week residential training course. The participants also paid the costs of training and accommodations for this in-service. Once again, the training is not compulsory but is a requirement for any promotion. After the three-week training through PRISM, the teachers concerned are expected to conduct research and write a report within a six-month period. They then return to the training center for one week to present their individual reports and receive their certificates.
It should be noted that both bodies-KESI and PRISM-are under the Ministry of Education, in the Kenya Government.
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