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Kenya - Teaching Profession

Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceKenya - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education


There were initiatives aimed at producing teachers to meet demand in Kenya and East Africa before Kenya's independence. One of the initiatives was the 1960 Teachers for East Africa Project (TEA), a joint Anglo-America initiative to provide secondary schools teachers for the rapidly expanding schools in East Africa. A conference was held in December 1960 in the U.S. state of New Jersey by the American Council on Education to secure secondary teachers for East Africa. After the conference, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) financed the project and the Teachers College of Colombia University recruited the candidates. Makerere University College in Uganda also launched a postgraduate diploma course for British teachers who did not have teaching qualifications. After the completion of the course the teachers were posted to teach in East African schools that included Kenya.

To become a teacher before independence, one had to complete only eight years of schooling. The change from the 4-4 to the 7-4-2-3 system after independence increased the need for more teacher training institutions. In 1969 there were 24 primary teacher training colleges and two main universities. The number of trained teachers increased from 2,400 in 1969 to 2,500 in 1970. In order to meet the demand created by the 1970-1974 educational development plan that almost doubled school enrollment, the number of trained teachers jumped from 2,900 to 3,475 between 1971 and 1974.

Kenyatta and Nairobi Universities and Kenya Science Teachers College trained the secondary school teachers. By 1969 the total number of trained secondary school teachers from the three institutions was 380, with a shortage of teachers amounting to 1,449. The 1970-1974 educational development plan aspired to increase the total number of secondary school teachers from 417 to 670.

Training & Qualifications: Under the Kenya government policy to provide in-service training for unqualified primary school teachers, the Ministry of Education collaborated with the College of Education and External Studies to create a distance learning program so teachers could continue to teach while taking classes. In this venture, the materials were developed and tested before being adopted by the program. Since the early 1980s, the in-service training of primary school teachers through distance learning has become a permanent and parallel feature of teacher training in Kenya.

The Kenya Institute of Education plans to start another training program for qualified and unqualified teachers. The purpose will be to provide additional skills in the administration of schools and in some selected subjects that, according to national examination results, are not being effectively taught. This training will be extended to teachers in polytechnics, as most teachers in the polytechnic institutions do not have any initial formal training. Thus, the training program can help teach them relevant skills, enabling them to be more efficient in the classroom.

The Ministry of Education recruits and sponsors all the students. However, candidates must satisfy the following minimum requirements to become eligible:

  • Candidates must have at least KCE Division 3 or its equivalent
  • Candidates must have taught continuously in a primary school for at least three years
  • Candidates must be in the teaching service as a primary school teacher during the period of the in-service training

There are several levels of teacher certification—P1, P2, and P3. Because of the increased demand for teachers, there are some unqualified teachers (UQT) who are employed without certification and pursue certification as they teach. The UQT program started in 1964 as a correspondence tutorial course offered through radio at the recommendation of the then Kenya Education Commission. The Kenya government sought technical assistance from the USAID to establish the Correspondence Course Unit (CCU) through the Institute of Adult Studies of Nairobi University (then the Nairobi University College). At the time there were 37,923 teachers who were employed in Kenya's primary schools, of those, 10,438 were not professionally trained (certified). Among the qualified 27,485 teachers, there were 16,992 teachers who had P3 status, comprising about 60 percent of the qualified teaching staff and almost 45 percent of the total staff (Court and Ghai 1974).

For P3 qualifications, a teacher must have completed seven to eight years of primary education, depending on when they attended school, plus two years of teacher training. In order to be promoted to P2, a P3 teacher had to pass a required national exam, the Kenya Junior Secondary Examination (KJSE). In 1969 the Kenya Institute of Education collaborated with the Correspondence Course Unit in offering the CCU program along with KJSE preparatory courses to both P3 teachers and other adults who had completed primary education. Although Court and Ghai (1974) noted that the teachers who successfully completed the correspondence course compared well academically and professionally with those who had the formal teacher training from the university colleges, they also asserted that KJSE was not the most suitable curriculum for improving teachers' professional skills.

The Kenya Institute of Education offers a Primary Teacher Certificate through the continuing education program. The certificate takes three years to complete. Required courses for the first two years include professional studies, English, Kiswahili, mathematics, science, and music. Second year courses include the addition of art and craft, agriculture, geography, history, and civics. The third year includes the subjects of professional studies, religious education, physical education, geography, history, civics, and home science. There are additional subjects that are offered in addition to the core curriculum.

All courses are taught in English and the media and methods employed are printed text, radio broadcasts, and residential schools (approximately seven weeks per year). Candidates are awarded the Certificate of Primary Teacher Education only when they have successfully completed three full years of the prescribed course of study. A student who fails to meet the certificate's requirements is allowed to repeat either the examination in the subjects in which they failed to meet the requirement, or perform practical teaching, or both. Grades are accumulated until the requirements for the certificate are met. The certification for teachers are in two classifications: teaching and training skills in general, and primary education, which includes preschool (kenyaweb.com 2001).

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