The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) is not just a lone ranger, it is also adept at courting controversy. During the Kenya Primary School Headteachers Association (KEPSHA) meeting in Mombasa last year, Deputy Staffing Director Antonina Lentojioni told the heads that TSC will not change the new entry requirements for teaching in primary school.
Prospective teachers must now have a mean grade C in Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination. Further, they should have a C plain in English, Kiswahili, Mathematics, and in any of the humanities.
At first , the minimum entry requirement was simply a C. The upgrading of the Certificate of Primary to diploma in primary teacher education may have created the need to also upgrade the threshold to the diploma programme.
These changes, it seems, were not consultative and did not take into account the views of stakeholders, particularly those of KEPSHA and Kenya Private Schools Association going by their reactions.
Proof that TSC had not considered all aspects before raising college entry qualifications lies in the fact that the matter was brought at the meeting in Mombasa.
Granted, the competence of teachers depends on the quality of those admitted into the teachers training programme. However, I am not persuaded that performance in KCSE is the ideal measure for predicting competence in teaching.
Indisputably, content is the main thing which is why competent teachers must be properly trained. Specificity about the type of teacher fit to teach any given curriculum is about strengthening the academic programmes; the subject matter that teachers are called upon to teach. What is important, besides the KCSE grades, is the depth of the subject matter preparation for the teachers.
My interpretation of the TSC position is that the professional aspect of teaching during training is all that teachers require to be adjudged competent. TSC should appreciate the fact that excellent grades in KCSE are not a measure of teacher competence in the delivery of the curriculum.
What a mean grade of C implies is that a student’s general intelligence is enough to enable him or her play with, handle and acquire knowledge and solve problems.
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