Technical and vocational colleges are in the grip of a severe teacher shortage that compounds an already explosive staffing problem in the entire education sector.
The country’s 150 Technical and Vocational Educational Training(TVET) colleges are short of more than 5,000 teachers, a situation that threatens the quality of learning and also puts some of the courses on offer at risk of being abandoned.
Dr Kevit Desai, the Principal Secretary of TVET, while acknowledging the staffing deficit, says they are in the process of hiring 2,000 teachers this year to help close the gap.
“We have interviewed 1,000 tutors and the hiring process is on course. We will then interview 1,000 more later this year hoping to make the process continuous and sustainable,” he says.
Besides the TVET colleges, the basic education sector is itself grappling with a massive teacher shortfall that comes in the middle of the introduction of the Competency-Based Curriculum and the campaign to achieve 100 per cent transition from primary to secondary schools.
At the same time, universities are preparing to kick out more than 4,000 lecturers who do not have doctorate degrees and are, therefore, ineligible to lecture in a new policy introduced in 2017.
Teachers Service Commission (TSC) chief executive Nancy Macharia says the shortage stands at 96,345: primary schools require 38,054 and secondary 58,291.
According to the commission’s Strategic Plan for 2019 to 2023, the shortage will reach 119,419 by 2023 with secondary schools hit hardest with a shortfall of 84,478 and primaries with 34,941.
In the last five years, the commission has recruited 28,843 teachers — 8,390 for primary and 20,453 for secondary.
Since the introduction of free primary education in 2003 and the resultant surge in enrolment from 5.9 million to about 10 million currently, the government has tended to concentrate on recruitment of primary school teachers.
It has now shifted attention to secondary schools, hoping to support the free day secondary education programme and the 100 per cent primary-secondary transition quest.
And, just like in basic education, the government is driving a huge enrolment campaign to TVET colleges despite the staffing handicap.
The student population in colleges stands at around 183,000 up from 98,000 only two years ago.
The teaching force stands at 3,780 compared with a requirement of about 8,000.
A government policy released late last year indicates that the ministry is targeting to increase the enrolment of students in technical and vocational training institutes from the current 180,000 to 3.1 million by attracting one million students annually and tapping the more than 500,000 students who fail to join universities in the country every year.
Dr Meshak Opwora, the Director, Technical Education in the State Department for Vocational and Technical Training, says they are working to close the teacher deficit incrementally.
However, the National Assembly’s Education Committee wants the recruitment stopped, claiming that some of the tutors being recruited have no teaching skills.
The committee that is chaired by Julius Melly (Tinderet) argues that the recruits do not meet the threshold of being tutors.