|The Effectiveness of Teacher Resource Centre Strategy - Education research paper No. 34 (DFID, 1999, 257 p.)|
|CHAPTER FIVE : Teacher Resource Centres in Kenya|
It is clear from our observations of TRCs, from the hiatus in the support of TACs which has accompanied the switch between SPRED I and SPRED II and from the lessons the AKES learnt from their work setting up a SIP programme in Kisumu, that sustaining a useful Teacher Centre system is a major challenge We now turn to this issue through a brief outline of the present state of the Kisumu TACs. The contrast with the Mombasa programme is instructional.
3.1 The SIP Programme in Kisumu
The Aga Khan Educational Service SIP project in Kisumu was started in 1990 and comprised two phases: Phase I from 1990 to 1993 and Phase II from 1993 to 1996. (Full details of the Project and its evaluation can be found in Capper, Nderitu, Ogula, AKES, Kenya, 1997.) The AKES moved to Mombasa leaving the Kisumu TACs to function under local and state support as was always intended under the plans for local sustainability.
During year one of the Kisumu project, the officers observed classrooms to assess the starting point of the teachers in a detailed needs assessment to determine the priorities for action and so that it might be possible to measure impact as the Project progressed.
Initial observation was followed by in-service workshops to train the local Primary school teachers. The AKES also mounted outreach courses in Nairobi for teachers who came from Kisumu, Nairobi and Mombasa with the general aim of improving teaching up to standard 4 in Primary schools.
Also in 1990, in conjunction with UNICEF and the Kisumu Municipality, the SIP programme developed a well-equipped District TAC situated in the Lake Primary school. It continues as the district TAC co-ordinating the nine zonal TACs which function today.
In 1991, three further TACs were established housed in local Primary schools. This was intended to take TACs closer to schools. Headteachers, TAC tutors, Inspectors and community representatives were involved and trained at the expense of the AKES.
TAC Tutors: Were given training in management, Pedagogy, professional development, Library management skills, use of teaching aids.
Headteachers: Were given training in leadership, financial management skills, Pedagogy, use of teaching aids, Development planning, Supervision of teachers.
Community: Were encouraged to be involved to promote the notion of sustainability. Communities donated materials to help the TACs function. They were involved in putting up shutters, cementing floors and burglar proofing the TACs. TACs were also used as centres for courses in nutrition and disease-control run for local communities. Some of the TACs function as community churches over the weekends.
It was agreed with the AKES when the Kisumu SIP programme was established that parents of every child enrolled in school would pay towards TAC activities. The Headteachers collected the money and passed on 20% to run the TAC and fund the in-service activities of the TAC. The remaining 80% was for use in school to support teachers attending in-service courses at the TAC and for buying materials such as chalk, pens, teaching aids and science equipment to implement TAC inspired outcomes in their schools. The signatories to the SIP account were the Kisumu Municipality and the SIP Project Director who was the treasurer.
The AKES withdrew from its SIP Project in Kisumu in 1996, leaving nine established TACs. Kisumu now appears to be struggling to sustain its TACs as functioning entities. Despite the fact that the parents of each of 54, 000 pupils enrolled in 128 primary schools pays 50KSh towards TAC activities, most Headteachers do not remit any part of this money to the SIP account. The systems established by the AKES to sustain the TACs and to ensure continued input to improve the conditions of learning in Kisumus's primary schools appear to have collapsed at the fundamental stage of transfer of funds from Headteachers to the SIP account.
Consequently, teachers attending TAC in-service courses, workshops and seminars do not get certificates because there is no money. There are no materials for seminars, so the teachers have to bring their own from their respective schools. The SIP Project Director and the TAC Tutors have to use their own money for transport and subsistence while on duty away from their offices. There have been no new books purchased for the District TAC since withdrawal of AKES funding in 1996.
"/ visited Standards 2B, 3Y and 1 Blue. There were some old charts on the wall and others in a corner in the classroom. The teachers had improvised coconut mats on the wall to act as pinboards. The teachers said they learnt how to make their aids in their training but the TACs had given them the impetus to make them. None of the classes had as rich a learning environment as that in Mombasa SIP project schools. " (DK, fieldnotes)
There are now only seven Programme Officers for the nine established TACs. This is because one is pursuing a BEd course in Special Education at Kenyatta University and one became a TAC tutor. The stated plan is to interview replacements soon.
When the Aga Khan Educational Services wound up the project in 1996, it donated the two vehicles to continue to be used for the SIP project. One of the vehicles is used exclusively by the Town Clerk, never on TAC business. The second one is in the garage awaiting spares for which there is no money. A third vehicle, donated to the project by UNICEF-Kenya, is also in the garage. The Project Director and the TAC tutors have no transport. They are having to use their own money to visit schools to discharge their TAC duties. TAC programmes and influence are waning in Kisumu.
Parents seem resigned to the misuse of the TAC levy in the fees they pay to schools, appearing to add this to their experience of the failed promises of education in Kenya.
3.2 CONDITIONS FOR IMPACT OF TEACHERS' CENTRES IN KENYA
We would isolate a number of conditions for the successful impact of TRCs or TACs on teachers and pupils in Kenyan schools. None of these on their own is sufficient and it may be that all of them have to be in place if the TRC or TAC is to be effective.
Enthusiasm and commitment: Everyone concerned must be committed. This means close
involvement of the Ministry, either actively participating or at the very least funding personnel and keeping in touch with developments. Education Officers must see that they provide emotional support in addition to finance and material means. They need to ensure that schools pass on to the Centres that portion of the pupil levy which is intended to support the activities of that Centre. Where these components of commitment were not evident or half-hearted, the Centres and their TAC/TRC-tutors were struggling. Teachers and communities placed their energies elsewhere.
Teachers and their Headteachers have to feel that they are supported both emotionally and materially. Enthusiasm is not enough. Teachers have to be able to attend the TAC/TRC without incurring personal expense and the Centre has to reward their attendance by having materials for them to work with as well as professional advice to help them implement Centre initiatives in their classes. Centre personnel need to follow-up their inputs, not in any token sense, but by adding themselves to the effort in the classroom and the staffroom.
The involvement of the community is a prerequisite. The SIP programme makes the active participation of the community through provision of the TAC Management Committee Chair and Treasurer an essential condition for the allocation of SIP resources funded by the AKES. The failure of the Kisumu Headteachers to pay the dues to run the TACs points to the need to have a strong independent account treasurer.
The absolute requirement to provide burglar-proof facilities for material storage and space for teacher-workshops draws the community into an initial commitment that is fundamental to sustaining the TAC. This initial and significant investment aims to commit the community to the enterprise of developing its teachers even as the Aga Khan/DflD funding is reduced. For instance, the outlay on burglar-proofing - heavy metal doors and bars on windows in a country where all steel is imported - and on facilities for workshops is substantial. However, if it is not forthcoming the AKES does not provide resources and set up a TAC in that school in the zone. The kudos attached to being involved in SIP appears to be strong enough for school PTAs to jostle for the honour of participation. The Mombasa SIP TACs we visited had all successfully attracted significant investment from local business people.
The SIP TAC Management Committee Chair was always a member of the local business community and not someone themselves employed in or by education. The Chairs we met were invariably deeply committed to the development of the teaching and learning aims of SIP. It is reasoned that continuing financial support is likely to follow if the initial community support is not to be seen as wasted. It is too early to say whether this will work in this way once the AKES completes its programme in Mombasa. The picture from Kisumu is gloomy, but such explicit conditional involvement was not established prior to the AKES scheme operating in Kisumu.
The investment in supporting the teachers is crucial. The AKES provides the PO to work
closely with 3-4 SIP schools over a year. In addition to the TAC-tutor and the inspector employed by the Municipality, the Municipality also provides the area Adviser. This level of support is unique and contributes to effectiveness. The POs we met were outstanding people. The PO involved in the school described above was exceptional and his contribution to the energy we met cannot be stressed enough. Whether resources exist for such labour intensive investment outside a project such as SIP is an open question.
None of the SIP TACs were purpose-built, but the physical facility of the TAC appeared necessary for the in-service programme to run, for teachers to be able to work and consult, for storage of materials and tools and as a base for the Centre personnel..
The involvement of Heads and their deputies are also vital. Where things were working well, they were not just supportive, but active in their participation with the TAC or TRC even if that Centre was not located in their school. They not only made money available for workshop attendance, they appreciated the efforts of teachers and children. They involved themselves in the affairs of the community and shared their interests in the children.
Participating teachers have to be convinced that they are vital to the enterprise. Without their commitment and energy nothing would succeed. They have to want to travel to TACs, to be receptive to the ideas, to see the rewards arising from their participation (certificates leading to promotion, complimentary words from parents, support in the classroom from the PO and TAC-tutors, Heads and deputies.).
Reward for the TRC/TAC tutor: Since there appears to be little status associated with being a Centre-tutor and no extra salary, some incentives would appear necessary. SIP offers these in the form of a higher degree professional development programme.
Distances from the TAC/TRC: The most successful Centres, judged along many parameters, were those where teachers could move from home or school by foot. Even small distances involving travel put a barrier in the ways of use of the Centre or the frequency of contact between the teacher and the Centre-tutor. Distances greater than 10 km, even where public transport was effective, would seem to be too great for teachers and Centre staff alike. In fact, the threshold distance may be less than 5 km and actually be that distance which teachers are prepared to walk! There certainly seemed to be a direct relationship between the distance of a school from a TRC and its use of, indeed knowledge of the existence of, the TRC.
It is noteworthy that the AKES has set up its programmes in high-density population areas where schools (and TACs) are close to (within walking distance?) each other. It is highly significant that the AKES is currently planning to set up another SIP project in densely populated Vihiga, although there are many underachieving districts in Kenya from which to choose.
It is clear that Teachers Centres which can satisfy all the above conditions can only be established in a few places in Kenya. Perhaps that has to be recognised and resources allocated differently and not through a TRC/TAC system where such conditions cannot apply.