Teachers Service Commission (TSC) has recommended changes in the training framework of teachers going forward. Three of these are, one, that the Bachelor of Education (BEd) degree be replaced with either a Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree with a postgraduate diploma in education.
Two, TSC wants a curriculum for postgraduate diploma in teacher education to cater for educators who will train pre-service teachers at the teacher training colleges (TTCs). Three, it wants an institute for teacher support and professional development set up.
In a paper, “Framework on entry requirements in the teaching service”, which has the recommendations, TSC has not stated any inadequacy in the BEd degree or indicated how its replacement would correct that. One would have expected research findings to justify the radical move that has elicited debate.
The recommendation that fresh graduates be posted to colleges to teach diploma trainees is a major departure from past practices. One would have expected that such graduates first teach in primary or secondary school to acquire experience on how teaching and learning takes place at that level.
At a later date, they could enrol in professional development courses to acquire the requisite skills to teach in a TTC. That would be a logical and sequential method of acquiring knowledge and experience from the classroom level to the TTC lecture hall.
The proposed teacher support and professional development institute is a good idea. However, TSC will be taking over functions that have been traditionally carried out by the Kenya Education Staff Institute and ad hoc donor-funded professional development courses normally run by the Quality Assurance Department and the directorates of the Ministry of Education.
Add to this the fact that TSC has established a quality assurance department similar to that of the ministry, in addition to carrying out teacher management functions involving 350,000 teachers spread out in more than 40,000 primary and secondary schools and you have a large and unwieldy outfit that has overshadowed the Education ministry.
Teaching and learning stand on three pillars: Curriculum development, curriculum implementation and curriculum evaluation. Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD), TSC and Kenya National Examination Council (Knec) were established to carry out these functions respectively.
The ministry’s Quality Assurance Department was traditionally mandated to assess the work of these three bodies and report to the principal secretary, who would, in turn, co-ordinate the steps to sort out emerging issues.
One could not imagine TSC instructing Knec on how to set or mark examinations; just like KICD cannot instruct TSC on how to recruit and deploy teachers. There was a clear separation of functions.
The situation in universities is, however, different because they develop, teach and evaluate their curricula. The recommendation by TSC that the universities change the configuration of the education training courses is akin to the commission making similar recommendations to KICD and Knec, which may be seen as an intrusion on their mandates. Bear in mind that universities carry out similar functions as KICD and Knec.
Things have radically changed, however, since 2010, when TSC became an independent constitutional body. It is also a member of the board of KICD and a council member of Knec; hence, it can influence policies in the two bodies. KICD and Knec, and even the ministry, do not have much power and influence over TSC due to its legal independence.
It is in this context that TSC’s proposals must be viewed. The TSC may not dictate how universities admit and train their students in the faculty of education; however, universities cannot ignore the views of the major employer of its graduates. Similarly, one member of the education triumvirate now has much more power and influence over the rest.
TSC requires the junior partners and the universities. They all have to negotiate for space to accommodate views of one another.