TSC’s education proposal has many grey areas

What you need to know:

  • Does TSC want us to go back to a tradition dropped in the early 1970s? 
  • What is the problem that it seeks to cure?

A proposal by the Teachers Service Commission to scrap education programmes offered in universities has generated intense public debate. Since no firm decision has been arrived at, it is critical to examine the issue deeply. This is because the proposal has far-reaching professional, legal and economic implications.

For a start, it is important to provide context for teacher education programmes. The Bachelor of Education was introduced in 1974 at the University of Nairobi and later moved to Kenyatta University College, now Kenyatta University. Before, teacher education was done at postgraduate level. 

This was a carryover from the University of East Africa, which comprised Makerere University College, University College Dar es Salaam and University College, Nairobi. The University of East Africa was split in 1970 as each of the colleges upgraded and became full-fledged universities.

As part of upgrading programmes and advancing teaching profession, each of the universities started Bachelor of Education programmes in the early 1970s, which has survived to date. The reason for having BEd course was that teachers were required to learn the subjects and the way they are taught – pedagogy – simultaneously. 

Many faculties of education

Thus, the first question is: Does TSC want us to go back to a tradition dropped in the early 1970s? Second: What is the problem that it seeks to cure?

The second point of argument is economics of changeover. To date, at least 56 out of 74 universities in the country offer BEd programmes. When the course is degraded to diploma level, what will the country do with those many faculties of education and human resources invested in them? 

The third is legal. Universities are autonomous and determine own courses. TSC has legal mandate on teacher training but that does not mean determining courses for universities.

Let’s have sober debate on the matter but bearing in mind that there are pressing matters in education requiring urgent attention.