The Ministry of Education has set up a team to investigate the mass failure of primary school teacher trainees in national examinations for the last five years.
Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed said the team from the Directorate of Quality Assurance will look into the reasons for the mass failure, which she said is worrying.
“I cannot speculate what is happening in teachers training colleges for now until I get the report so that we can understand where the problem is,” said Ms Mohamed while briefing journalists on the ongoing national exams at the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) headquarters in Nairobi.
However, Knec chairman Prof George Magoha has a reason why more than half of candidates who sit Primary Teachers Education (PTE) examinations fail every year.
“These candidates are not reading and that is why they are failing in mass,” said Prof Magoha, noting that what Knec sets for candidates is in the syllabus.
The data for the past five years indicate that 2017 had the highest number of candidates who failed at 12,438. In 2016, some 6,267 trainees failed, 2015 had 4,358 while 2,074 failed in 2014.
This year, 10,457 out of 29,530 candidates failed in their examinations and will have to resit the exams next year.
In 2017, some 24,454 candidates sat the exams, while the number was 19,142 in 2016, some 18,662 trainees sat the exam in 2015 while 2014 had 17,291 candidates.
The mass failure of candidates has raised concerns on the quality of teachers at primary schools.
The PTE examination covers 14 subjects which are tested in 21 papers and teaching practice.
Only 21 candidates attained distinction in this year’s exam.
Kenya National Qualification Authority director-general Dr Juma Mukhwana said the future of teacher education in the country needs stakeholder discussion.
Dr Mukhwana said what the country needs in view of changing trends and curricular is how to motivate and bring teachers up to to speed with new technologies and how to improve training, the training environment and quality of candidates admitted.
“Our view has been that all over the world teacher education is a vocation. Hence, teacher education in Kenya needs to be moved to the TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training) sector so that it benefits from a robust accreditation and regulatory framework, move to competence-based training system which is currently being implemented in the TVET sector, and benefit from the funding that has been set aside for TVET students,” said Dr Mukhwana.