Education Cabinet Secretary Nominee Ezekiel Machogu Must First Address Teachers Shortage If Approved
If Ezekiel Machogu receives parliamentary approval to become the new Education Cabinet Secretary, he will inherit a caseload rife with persistent and pesky obstacles.
His predecessor, Prof. George Magoha, must feel relieved from the load of the ministry’s continuous issues.
In its sixth year of implementation, the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) is still the topic of a heated discussion regarding its philosophy, implementation, examination, and transition processes, as well as the readiness of teachers to implement it.
Even though the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) trained hundreds of teachers on the new curriculum, the majority of them are still using the old method, 8-4-4, because of apathy or unwillingness to fully embrace the change.
Numerous parents who believe the system is excessively expensive, cumbersome, and unwelcoming to them and their children have adopted this attitude.
In other words, the government has not convinced the people that the system is superior and more effective than 8-4-4.
The fact that President William Ruto has vowed to organize a task force to study the system has given the perception that there is an opportunity to completely replace it with the 8-4-4 system or at the very least halt its implementation.
Mr. Machogu must first combat the negative public impression and distrust that have plagued the system before he can address infrastructure issues and interlocking systemic concerns.
The huge teacher shortages have negatively impacted the quality of teaching and learning.
In addition to the 10,000 teachers who leave the service annually as a result of natural attrition or resignations, TSC data indicates a deficit of almost 100,000 teachers.
In tandem with this is the 100% transition initiative from elementary school to secondary school.
While this initiative has resulted in nearly 90 percent transition in some places and nearly 100 percent transition in others, it has caused congestion and strain on school infrastructure, diminishing the joy of learning by transforming certain schools into prison camps.
While secondary schools have been scrambling to extend their facilities in preparation for next year’s double intake, when the first cohort of CBC students will enter secondary schools, the scenario is a potential time bomb.
Higher education likewise faces its own unique challenges.
While Technical and Vocational Education and Training (Tvet) colleges are gaining in popularity among Form Four graduates, the majority lack curricular guidance and are understaffed.
According to the most recent economic survey, the institutions, which include 11 national polytechnics, 933 vocational and technical colleges, and 1,247 vocational centers, enroll over 430,598 students, the bulk of whom are studying exclusively in technical programs.
Some universities are outfitted with brand-new equipment worth millions of shillings, yet most of it sits dormant due to trivial issues such as improper energy connections or a lack of skilled teachers to put it to use.
The institutions struggle with a tutor shortfall of over 5,000, lack a passionate and lively campus culture and lack secure housing for the majority of its students.
Most public universities are drowning in debt due to excessive reliance on shrinking government money and are unable to pay salaries on time or fulfill their statutory commitments.
In order to reduce expenditures, the World Bank requested a year ago that the government consolidate a number of organizations and eliminate a number of redundant courses.
There are approximately 102 public institutions and campuses in the country, which had a deficit of Sh6.2 billion last year and received approximately Sh70 billion in government funding.
The National Treasury has slashed financing for the institutions by nine percent (about Sh9.4 billion), leaving them grasping at straws.
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With such a large list of challenges, Mr. Machogu must take the plunge immediately and strike the ground running, since his legacy will ultimately be determined by his ability to turn around the fortunes of Kenya’s education sector.