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Uproar over teachers’ rising mass failure :: Kenya



Parents and teachers of Sakagwa school in Kisii County celebrate while holding high top candidates in their school Caleb Ouko (right) who scored 428 marks and Bright Morara who scored 422 marks in KCPE. (Sammy Omingo/Standard)

In summary

  • Fury as report reveals mass failure in teacher colleges
  • This year alone, 10,723 of the 29,994 P1 teachers who sat examinations across public and private colleges failed
  • Parents and unions now want an audit on teachers training colleges

Concerns have arisen over the quality of education in schools since nearly half of teachers who sit primary education training courses fail the final examinations. 

An analysis of the teachers’ performance in P1 (certificate) training colleges over the past five years reveals shocking data of mass failure of teachers expected to guide your child in lower grades.


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Parents and teachers unions yesterday demanded an immediate audit to unearth the possible rot in teacher training colleges (TTCs), as failure trend spans five years back.

“We are concerned that the persons we entrust with our children are failing examinations on subject areas that they should be competent in,” said Nicholas Maiyo, the National Parents Association chairman.

Students enrolled in the colleges confess that the rising mass failure is a sign of lack of motivation in the teaching profession.

Data compiled by the Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC) shows nearly half of the teachers enrolled in public and private training colleges fail the Primary Teacher Education (PTE) examination.

The revelations come as the government lowered entry grade of the teachers to the training colleges from C to D.

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Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed gazzetted the Kenya National Qualifications Authority (KNQA) standards that set C– (minus) as the minimum diploma entry grade and D (plain) for certificate courses.

Future performance


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Currently, the minimum teachers entry grade to certificate training is C and a C+ for diploma colleges.

This means that teacher trainees failing the exams now scored grade C (plain), with questions being raised over the future performance of grade D candidates.

An analysis of the KNEC data reveals that for the last three years, a total of 29,595 out of 73,032 (41 per cent) failed. Only 29 teachers passed with distinction in the last three years. This year alone, 10,723 of the 29,994 P1 teachers who sat examinations across public and private colleges failed. Of these, 10,457 have been given referrals, which means that next year, they will resit one or more subjects they failed this year.

Failing any of the subjects offered in training colleges leads to referrals.

The students study English, Mathematics, Kiswahili, Home Science, Agriculture, Religious Education, Physical Education (PE), Music, Creative Arts, Science, Social Studies and Education during their first year of learning.

During the second and final year, they study compulsory subjects – English, Mathematics, Kiswahili, Education and PE. In addition to these, they also pick science or humanities subjects.

KNEC data shows that in 2018 PTE examination, only 21 teachers passed with distinction while the majority – 12,388 – managed credit. Some 5,581 had a pass.


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In 2017 PTE examination, a total of 12,749 of the 24,946 teachers who sat the examination failed. Only five teachers got a distinction as 8,773 managed a credit and 2,570 a pass.

And in 2016, some 19,430 teachers sat the examination across all the training colleges. Of these, only three had a distinction. Some 6,389 failed while 8,526 teachers managed a credit and 1,910 got a pass.

Maiyo said parents maintain that the entry grade for teachers should be raised and will continue to reject the lowered grade.

“How do we expect a teacher who failed and resat mathematics to have the passion to teach our children the same subject?” he said.

The Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut), which represents most of the primary school teachers, pointed fingers at KNEC.

“We have spent more time addressing KCPE and KCSE examinations and forgot about issues surrounding teachers training colleges,” said Knut Secretary General Wilson Sossion.

“Examinations are supposed to facilitate access to learning and not to spotlight failures. The ministry must institute an audit in TTC’s and also address failed systems in examination administration,” he said.

Students enrolled in TTCs, who spoke yesterday, cited lack of motivation in the teaching profession.

“Most of these students in the TTCs are not really passionate about teaching, but they just need the job,” said one student in a public TTC.


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Upon graduation, the teachers apply for registration by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) after which they are posted as P1 teachers in primary schools.

Early this year, TSC Chief Executive Nancy Macharia expressed a concern over the failuretrend.

“It is of concern that some colleges had a failurerate of more than 50 per cent. Most of them also registered a high number of referrals, meaning that many students had to re-sit examinations and could not, therefore, graduate,” said Macharia during a graduation ceremony at Kamwenja TTC.

TSC lost the fight to raise the entry requirements as the KNQA insisted they are the only body mandated to set minimum training standards.

In her protest letter dated September 25, 2018 to KNQA Director General Juma Mukhwana, Macharia said “lowering the entry grade is a serious affront to national development and may be a recipe for failed future economy.”

“It is of great importance to put in place a minimum qualifications requirement for persons aspiring to train as teachers which serve as a filter to let in only the best to become teachers,” said Macharia.  

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