|The Effectiveness of Teacher Resource Centre Strategy - Education research paper No. 34 (DFID, 1999, 257 p.)|
|CHAPTER FIVE : Teacher Resource Centres in Kenya|
1.1 Background to Centres in Kenya
There are 2 distinct types of Teachers' Centre operating in Kenya, namely Teacher Resource Centres (TRCs) at the Secondary level and Teacher Advisory Centres (TACs) supporting Primary phase teachers.
Kenya has a long history of supporting teachers through Teachers' Centres (Ayot, 1983). TRCs were first set up in the 1970s and rejuvenated in the 1980s by the ODA with the focused curricular aim to improve English teaching and learning. More recently, and post-Jomtien, true to its policy of support for Basic Education and Poverty Alleviation, DflD has funded TACs. This represented a distinct policy shift not only from working through Resource Centres to Advisory Centres, but also concentrating on improving teaching and learning English, Mathematics and Science in Primary schools. The emphasis in the investment could be interpreted as in developing people's expertise and not on putting books on bookcases in purpose-built centres. The policy was based on the need for sustainability and supported the tenet that expertise endures, books decay. The Kenyan government pays the TAC tutors' salaries, DfID funds training and professional development.
Teacher Resource Centres in Kenya: TRCs were started in Kenya in 1975 and funded in various phases under different programmes by the ODA until 1992. Latterly they functioned to support the ODA funded English Language programmes of the 1980s. At the time of writing there were 25 functional TRCs in the country. They are administered through a TRC-tutor seconded from a local secondary school for part of her/his timetabled teaching time and managed by a TRC Management Committee largely comprising the Headteachers of the Secondary schools in the District. The TRC Committee is supposed to receive monies from a system of levies on parents through schools. The TRC is thus now funded in part by the Ministry, who pays the TRC-tutor's salary, and in part by transfer of funds from participating schools from the levy on parents. There is no longer any formal donor funding of Kenyan TRCs although the British Council continues to encourage and train the TRC-tutors.
TRCs carry a collection of resources for teachers to use on site or to borrow for their own professional development. Primarily, however, they have class sets of readers associated with the KCSE Examination syllabus for English and background resource texts to support teachers in their teaching of English. The TRC-tutor manages a programme of In- service course for the teachers of English in the TRC area as well as controlling the resources of the TRC.
Teacher Advisory Centres in Kenya: The TAC system was developed by the Ministry of Education and the ODA in 1978. TACs were established at that time in Primary Teacher Training Colleges and were intended for use by Primary school personnel as curriculum development and management centres They were to be venues for in-service training courses, where teachers could go to make teaching materials and to be a base for the teacher-advisers or TAC-tutors (Modi, 1997). They operate through zonal TACs with several zones being co-ordinated through a District TAC. More than 1, 370 zonal TACs have been established in Kenya.
TACs are mostly jointly funded by the Government of the Republic of Kenya and DflD as part of the SPRED (Strengthening Primary Education) programme. SPRED is now in its second phase (SPRED II) which started in 1997. DflD also funds the PRISM (Primary School Management) project which uses the TAC system to support the training goals of that programme aimed at Headteachers and school managers.
There are also TACs which are managed and part funded by the Aga Khan Education Service (AKES) as the School Improvement Project (SIP) which also receives some DflD funding. The AKES initiated its SIP programme through the TACs in Kisumu in 1990 before moving its programme to the TACs of the Mombasa Municipality in 1996/7. (See Black et al, 1993 for an account of the Aga Khan Foundation's school improvement programmes worldwide.)
Few zonal TACs under the SPRED I programme were resourced with books and other material resources for teachers to use or borrow. District TACs and some zonal TACs received sets of Science English and Mathematics reference texts, book-box libraries, class sets of readers for loan to schools and Science kits. TAC tutors in some areas were also supplied with a bicycle to support their school visits programme. In the SIP programme, however, zonal TACs are more heavily resourced and function both as an advisory and a resource centre.
This study of the case of Kenya and the effectiveness of its Teachers' Centres looks first at how the TRCs function at Secondary school level in the country before moving on to present the picture of the two different models of TAC operation in the Primary sector. The study lingers on the SIP programme, a case within the case study almost, since it is felt that there are significant messages for the future sustainability of the Teacher Centre concept not just in Kenya, but elsewhere. It prefaces the discussion of TRCs and TACs with a brief contextualisation, an outline of schools and schooling in Kenya.
1.2 Context: Education in Kenya
At the 1992 census it was estimated that there were some 28 million people living in the Republic of Kenya, up from 11 million at the time of Uhuru (Independence from colonial administration). Recently falling back slightly, the population growth rate in Kenya was over 4% until the late 1980s, among the highest in the world. It was estimated at that time that very nearly 60% of the population was aged 15 years or under, providing an enormous strain on welfare and education systems in the country.
Fully 97% of the Kenyan Education budget is spent on teachers' salaries, leaving little finance available for equipping or resourcing schools or for teachers' professional development. Provision of book and other resources for schools and teachers has provided the Kenya Government with a massive challenge. Donor-funded Teachers' Centres have been one way of supporting teachers and the education service.
In the mid-1980s Kenya changed its education structure, moving away from the British model comprising 13 years of schooling ending in the sixth form with A-levels, to its current 8-4-4 system (see Eshiwani, 1993 for a fuller account of the recent history of education in Kenya). Now children receive 8 years of basic education at Primary level after which they may leave with a Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE). Currently about 86% of eligible children are enrolled in primary schools. In common with other countries in the region this proportion has actually fallen since the Jomtien 1990 declaration of 'basic education for all'.
About 40% of Primary school leavers proceed to 4 years at secondary school, entry being selective and highly competitive based on KCPE performance. University and Higher education is entered after 4th form, is again highly competitive and based on the results of the public examination, the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE). About 3% of the age cohort enter HE/FE.
State schools at all levels differ greatly in almost all respects - numbers of pupils and teachers, catchment, teachers' qualifications - depending upon both their location, urban or rural, and their status. There is also a thriving and growing private sector although all schools, state and private, collect fees to a greater or lesser extent.
There is a sense of dissatisfaction with education in Kenya usually expressed in the press as tension between the 'die-hards' who want a return to the old system and the proponents of 8-4-4. There is a growing number of unemployed university graduates, secondary school leavers are not in full employment and parents no longer insist that their children go to school. In the rural areas especially, parents suggest that their children are more productive helping on the farm than
"..wasting their time on schooling which is bad and doesn't get you a job anyway!" (parent, Western Kenya).
There is a growth in after-school coaching to make more certain of examination success, these sessions often staffed by the same teachers as the children meet at school during school hours.
State-run Primary schools are almost always neighbourhood schools with all pupils attending daily. The majority of Secondary schools are boarding schools, parents often having to contribute a bed, a desk and books as well as fees if offered a place for their child at the school.
Pupils in a typical Kenyan Primary classroom
Most Primary and Secondary state schools and the majority of those privately funded are poorly equipped and resourced by comparison with schools in the rich West and North. All schools have a requirement that their pupils wear the school uniform and children are smartly dressed. In many rural Primary schools there are children without shoes despite having journeys of several kilometres to school.
Teacher absenteeism is a problem in many schools:
My pay is not enough. I work here at school and then I have after school classes which the parents pay and this helps me to look after my family. I have to make sure that we have food and sometimes I am needed on the shamba (farm). (Teacher, primary school, Central Kenya).