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Higher teacher entry grade vital for quality



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The row over the entry grade to teacher training colleges was unwarranted. And it is fitting that Attorney-General Paul Kihara Kariuki has given an advisory retaining the status quo.

The Kenya National Qualifications Authority sparked off the debate when it proposed reducing minimum entry qualification for certificate training in teacher education to Grade D in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) and Grade C- for diploma training.

Currently, the minimum grade is C- for certificate course and C+ for diploma. This has been informed by the need to upgrade the quality of teachers and uplift the standard of teaching in schools.

In many parts of the world, only those with very good high school grades become teachers and are highly rewarded. That guarantees quality of teaching.

But ours has been turned upside down. It is those with low grades that join TTCs, meaning that we send weak people to teach our children. It is a skewed system that has to go.

This why experts have been rooting for higher qualifications. All along, neither Qualifications Authority nor Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed gave convincing reasons for lowering the grades. No consultation was done to arrive at that decision. Worse, the pronouncement came when the National Curriculum Review Steering Committee was making serious proposals to upgrade teacher training in line with the new curriculum. It seems the left hand did not know what the right hand was doing.

As ruled by the AG, determination of the qualification of those entering the teaching profession is the domain of the employer, the Teachers Service Commission.

If the Qualifications Authority or the minister wish to effect any change, they have to consult. But there was no necessity in the first place to force change.

Nobody had complained. On the contrary, the proposed changes were retrogressive.

We need higher calibre of teachers and that starts with the entry level and content of training they go through.

While at it, this is the chance to re-examine the kind of training at TTCs and schools of education at university.

New pedagogical skills must be introduced to prepare the teacher for the future. Equally, the TSC must continually improve the terms and conditions of service for teachers to motivate and retain them.

In sum, the only way to guarantee the quality of teaching and learning in schools is through good training offered to the best qualified candidates.