|The Effectiveness of Teacher Resource Centre Strategy - Education research paper No. 34 (DFID, 1999, 257 p.)|
|CHAPTER FIVE : Teacher Resource Centres in Kenya|
4.1 Teacher Resource Centres
It is noteworthy that TRCs in Kenya are still functional, used and valued some 6 years after the cessation of external funding. They have sustained them selves to a greater or lesser extent over that time. However, Kenyan TRCs service only Secondary English teachers and thus their impact is limited to that subject alone. They were judged as effective by their closest and most frequent users. Their resources are envied by Primary schools tied into the TAC systems. They provide texts and class sets of readers unavailable to teachers except through TRCs. The usefulness of the In-service provision is more open to question and might only really be judged through intensive study of the carry through from the course input to the increased performance of pupils or changes to the pedagogy of attending teachers.
The TRCs we studied have no measurable impact on schools further than a few kilometres away.
The choices include:
i) Discontinue TRCs in Kenya. Use the premises as additional capacity in the schools where they are situated. Distribute their existing resources to local secondary schools. However, for the most part the schools have adequate space already and sharing resources would make no discernible impact on such under-resourced schools.
ii) Develop the TRCs in Kenya. There are only 25 TRCs and they service only English. They are only effective in neighbourhood schools. This development option implies equipping many more TRCs and broadening their subject focus to at least English, Maths and Science (as in the AIEMS project in Zambia?). The cost of this option suggests that adequate school-based resourcing might be as cost effective!
4.2 Teacher Advisory Centres
TACs and their personnel are welcomed by teachers who judge them to be effective in the support they offer. Evidence of effectiveness as judged by increased learning of pupils is difficult to substantiate in the SPRED TACs. Changes to the pedagogy of teachers is slightly more apparent, but evidence is largely anecdotal and circumstantial. Evidence from SIP TACs is tangible, but now needs to be backed up by a focused study of the transfer of learning both to teachers and to their pupils.
The SIP In-service programme is well co-ordinated across the zones of Mombasa, but at present it could be said that SIP is trying to improve on too many fronts rather than having a single focus for each of the 3 subjects. It has not devoted its efforts to a small number of agreed initiatives with concomitant materials production to support the pedagogy of teachers and their classroom activities to promote learning.. The way forward may be to identify that focus, develop the materials and the training programme, and devote the resources to making it work in the classroom. The literacy and numeracy initiatives in UK Primary schools might provide a model.
The SIP TACs have a much higher level of investment of people and materials than the SPRED TACs. This would suggest increasing the intensity of involvement of TAC personnel and schools, add to their resources, build in the community at the start to such an extent that their investment makes later withdrawal expensive and unlikely. That component of SPRED II, developing community involvement, is encouraging. It should also be noted that Mombasa is a strong business centre and the success of the SIP programme may be difficult to replicate where there is a less developed local economy.
However, these options seem tenable only in high density population areas where teachers can use their TACs and TAC personnel can be in school frequently and regularly.
Where populations and hence schools are more scattered - and much of Northern Kenya especially is still pastoral - other options appear more viable. These might involve resourcing schools more intensively with texts, increasing in-service work and providing in-service support with back up through published material for use by teachers. TAC news-sheets have been discussed elsewhere in this report. As with increasing the numbers of texts in schools, this is expensive, distribution difficulties have to be faced, but this option might prove to be more cost effective than extending the TAC network. A TAC with a tutor who cannot visit teachers sufficiently frequently to provide classroom advice is not effective. To have more TACs than the 1, 300 in existence would eventually end up with a TAC in every school in sparsely populated areas. School centred resourcing is a viable option under such circumstances.
Brief consideration of the above would suggest that a flexible response is needed. There is a strong case for TACs and TRCs where teachers and Centre personnel can reach each other. Elsewhere, a range of different responses is appropriate and a mixed economy of teacher support is logical. All options will cost more than the existing schemes!