There is a crisis in teachers’ colleges across the country after nearly half of the trainees who sat Knec exams failed.
The revelation emerged during a graduation ceremony at Moi Teachers’ College in Baringo, where 130 trainee teachers out of 360 got referrals.
Senior principal Richard Nduati said teachers’ colleges in the country were shocked at the high numbers of referrals meted by the council in last year’s exams.
“We are lucky ours is 130 referrals out of 360, other colleges registered over half the number of candidates, which is something we have never seen before,” said Rev Nduati.
The mass failure could be as a results of tough guidelines that were introduced last year by Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i in management of national examinations.
The tough guidelines saw a total 295,463 out 574,125 candidates score D and below in Form Four national exams, which means that half of the candidates cannot pursue any professional course.
On Sunday, Kenya National Examinations Council acting chief executive Mercy Karogo admitted that the number of students who failed the exams was high but could not disclose the figures.
“I have received the report from principals of colleges and will need to go through it before stating the number of affected students,” said Ms Karogo.
Those who failed the exams will have to wait until the end of the year to resit the examinations.
Students who join teachers’ colleges are required to have scored grade C (plain) and above, and annually more than 20,000 students graduate from both private and public teachers’ colleges.
Rev Nduati said the college is facing a huge challenge as it is painful for a student to pursue a course for two years and fail to graduate.
He made the remarks during the institution’s 23rd graduation ceremony at Seretunin.
The colleges are however in the dark as to what may have caused the mass failure in the examinations, which means a smaller number of teachers will be churned into the market.
The new development means that the institutions will have to find ways of coping with increased numbers against a constant capacity as the students may repeat their second year training.
It is however not clear whether the sharp drop in performance can be attributed to the strict management of examinations by Knec in measures aimed at curbing cheating in exams.
Baringo TSC county deputy Director Francis Macharia called on teachers to up their game and improve school performance in national exams.
“It is a big worry when we post 33,000 E grades. It shows our teachers didn’t do enough to impart knowledge, we believe that teacher appraisal programme will solve this problem,” said Mr Macharia.
The failure by the students collaborates a 2013 report by the World Bank dubbed “Service Delivery Indicators” which indicated that only 35 per cent of teachers in public schools understood the curriculum they were teaching.
“Seniority and years of training among teachers did not correlate with better teacher competence,” indicated the report.
Teachers’ unions have been pushing for direct employment of teachers who graduate and at the moment the country has a shortage of 87,000 teachers.
Under the new curriculum, the entry grade for people wishing to join the teaching profession will be raised.
The Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development, which is leading a curriculum review, has proposed that the entry grade for nursery teachers be C plain, up from D.
Those wishing to become primary school teachers should have a C+ instead of the current C, diploma teachers should have B-, up from C+, while those seeking degrees in education must have a B+ in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examinations.
“At all levels, there should be practicum (teaching practice) at the end of the first year and second year supervised by lecturers and teachers and principals in schools,” states the report.
KICD has also proposed an improvement in communication skills among teachers, noting that many cannot do so competently, contributing to poor performance by learners.
It also wants the inclusion of mentorship in teacher education as well as talent nurturing and resource.