TEACHER EFFECTIVENESS, ITS CHALLENGES WITH THE INTROSUCTION OF FREE
PRIMARY EDUCATION IN KENYA: A SEARCH FOR QUALITY RELEVANT EDUCATION
The Kenya Government has given Education a high priority as a vehicle of National development and
meeting the millennium goals of 2015.
the government has since independence commited itself to providing universal Education to all primary
school going age children. This commitment initially took the form of free primary Education in the
1970's. Free primary Education was later abolished under the structural Adjustment Programmes
(SAPS) of the 1980's, meaning that parents had to contribute more towards the Education of their
children through a cost sharing programme. One of the consequences of cost sharing was a decline in
school attendance and enrollment.
Since all parents were required to cover full costs of their children's Education (Bedi et all, 2002;
Kimalu et al, 2001). These costs cover uniforms, text books and other Instructional materials. Also
parents were to contribute to school construction and maintenance. Further, inadequate provision of
complementary inputs like text books significantly reduced the effectiveness of teachers.
Although the cost of primary school Education was borne by the government and households before
the re-introduction of free primary Education in 2003, the share of public expenditure in the total
Education budget is still large. The government spends more than 50% of its Education expenditure on
primary school Education. There is need for efficiency – enhancing measures in the Education sector.
This paper presents some findings of the challenges facing teachers in the implementation of free
The study may help the stakeholders in Education to address the challenges and change the content
inline with the current constitution and streamline the syllabus in order to attain the millennium vision
of 2030. The expected change from the old methods to new subjects such as I.C.T, where children can
learn basic things about technology and align themselves with these developments to great relevance
access, equity quality and Transition in their lives and society.
Introduction: Background to the study
In line with the Government's commitment to international declarations, protocols and conventions as
resolved in world conferences on Education for all held in Jomtien.
Thailand, 1990, Dakar – Senegal, 2000 and by the millennium Development Goals Kenya has been
ranked among top United Nations member countries likely to achieve the Universal Primary Education
goal by the year 2015.
Although Kenya, like other sub-Saharan African countries is making progress towards the attainment of
the Millennium development goals, it is still lagging behind on the specific targets of this goal (Eilor et
al, 2003; Bennel, 2004, Cox, 2004; UN, 2004). Special alteration should be given to the achievement of
quality, efficiency and sustainability. The free primary Education programme launched in 2003 brought
with it some challenges and these challenges are better understood from the teachers' perspective, given
that the teachers are the main implementers and have borne the brunt of these challenges.
Although the policy of free primary school Education has received a lot of praise, its implementation is
besieged with numerous challenges. In public schools.
Braskamp, Brandenburg and Ory, 1984 asserts that qualities of teachers such as knowledge,
organization of the subject matter, skills in instruction and attitudes are useful when working with
learners. This inturn help in teacher's effectiveness.
Researchers and policy makers agree that teacher effectiveness is a pivotal policy issue in Education
reforms aimed at improving quality (Anderson, 2004; Carnoy, 2004).
Research evidence shows that teachers are the most important of the school – related factors affecting
student achievement through their effectiveness and learners growth (Darling – Hammond, 200; King
Rice, 2003). other effectiveness qualities include:-
Organization of course knowledge and content.
Clear communication with students being respectful.
Fair and content driven interactions with learners.
Concern of student learning.
Fair assignments, assessments.
Examinations and grading completion of the syllabus.
Lewin and staurt, 2003; Tal ber and Mc Langhin, 1993). assert that International reviews dealing with
effectiveness of teachers indicate that selection and training of teachers, are important means of
improving performance at learning Teachers' qualification therefore tends to affect their behaviour
positively but policies to improve qualification of teachers in developing countries go unsupported.
World Bank, 1980.
In many countries, teacher Education programmes are at low quality and lack relevance to school needs
(Mc Kenzie and Santiago, 2004). In Kenya for example the Current policy stipulates that a primary
school teacher should be able to teach all the seven subjects in the primary school curriculum (MOEST
The two years of teacher training is not adequate for the teacher trainee to acquire, mastery in subject
content and skills of pedagony in all the seven subjects.
This compromises the quality of teaching offered after the training. For an individual to be called a
professional, one has to undergo intensive training of the pedagogy.
The curriculum of this level should also place more emphasis on child-centred approaches in teaching
so as to enhance both quality learning and motivation of the learners.
Barriers to teaching / learning in primary school.
One of the problems that prevent learning taking place is teachers lack of awareness of the barriers to
Teachers do not put into consideration the different types of learners in their classrooms.
Lack of variety of learning experiences to cater for the different learning styles.
Passive learning in the classroom characterized by the absence of involvement of learners in the
Poorly presented content that is not relevant to the level and needs of the learners.
Teacher – centred lessons and inappropriate teaching methods;
Inappropriate learning environment.
Inadequate and inappropriate use of teaching aids.
Drilling learners for examinations.
Lack of self-awareness and self esteem among learners.
Socio – economic factors such as poverty, broken homes, sickness, death or disability of parents, drug
Managing learners with special needs.
Perspectives on Teacher effectiveness classrooms in which engaged learning occurs have higher levels
of student co-operation, student success and task involvement (kemp and Hall, 1992).
Research shows that primary schools are not paying enough attention to the early grades by putting the
best teachers in the first grades and ensuring that the ratio of pupils to the teachers is manageable.
However, Kenyan pupils have been ranked second to those from Mauritius in maths skills in Southern
and Eastern Africa. But they lag behind Tanzania, Seychelles, Mauritius and Swaziland in reading
skills, according to a report by a regional Education Coalition.
The quality of Education that pupils are getting is now the primary issue.
It has now been proven that there is direct correlation between economic growth and the test scores in
There is need to monitor quality of Education in Kenya especially since the start of free learning are
changes in Education well managed?
A taskforce that has been working on Education reforms for the past tear has recommended a change in
the structure of the school system.
It seeks to drop the 8.4.4 Education system and replace it with a new one of 63.33 and also change the
Curriculum and the school calender (MOEST).
Already, the school calender was announced making the first term and second term longer and the third
one shorter. This matter is up for public debate before a final resolution is made.
Education reform is a serious public issue given the impact it has on the social, economic and political
life of a nation (Gachawa 200). Curriculum implementers will talk about piloting the modified
curriculum to a few schools before the actual implementation and of course all the stakeholders have
to be in the picture, that is the stakeholders have to have a say (Lewry 1977)
In both cases, implementation entails certain changes within the system. First the teacher – training
programmes must be adjusted to the requirements of the new programme. This implies modification in
both pre-service and in-service training activities. Occasionally, teachers are in need of further
instruction in the content area of the modified programme (Lewry 1977).
Occasionally, teachers are in need of further instruction, new teaching strategies or classroom
management. Always, teachers should be in serviced to monitor the programme, to identify flaw
defects and to diagnose learning difficulties and changes in Examination system. If programmes are
changed but national examinations remain unaltered, teachers may not have the motivation for the
focus on their educational work. (Bishop 1967).
Education reform is a serious public issue given the impact it has on the social, economic and political
life of a nation .
Besides the sectors is bound to undergo fundamental changes in conformity with the provisions of the
Education is explicitly enshrined as a constitutional right. Thus, the state parents and guardians have an
obligation to educate all children irrespective of their social, economic or religious backgrounds.
Managing change is not easy. This is why the education officials need to come up with a clear and
inclusive roadmap to implement the changes and avoid the pitfalls of the past.
The selection biased formula
According to the Ministry of Education the candidates who sat for 2011 KCPE were over 562,761.
Those who have been picked to join National Schools are 10,282 and this has been divided on the ratio
of 35.65 for private and public schools. The education ministry has proceeded to allocate only 3,598
form one slots in national secondary schools to the pupils from public schools.
This is said to promote equity, access, national and geographical diversity.
This should be able to tell us that our perception of the importance of this KCPE exam is inconsistent
with our overall goals of education. Our society is therefore suffering from the “A-mania” syndrome
which exhibits severe symptoms. It goes into frenzy while celebrating those who score A grade and
does not access the educational products in relation to the goals of education.
It does not care for average learners (MOEST and UNESCO, 2005).
An Education system which encourages vote learning does not encourage independent thinking nor
does it empower the learner with analytical skills. The learners can only cram material to be reproduced
later in examination but they cannot apply the same material to solve a problem. Pupils who have no
capacity to memorize things are doomed to fail. It is true that teachers no longer care whether they have
empowered the learner with the necessary life skills to contribute to the society or whether they are
turning out robots or the pupils who fail are commiting suicide. (MOEST and UNESCO 2005).
The best approach is to evolve an education system that values A students, but also provides for B,C,D
and E students. That is all categories must be catered for in our Education system. The economy has to
absorb all whatever examination result they get. Those who do not make it should be allowed a second
chance to try again or those girls who get pregnant in school should be allowed to give birth and
continue with their Education. The society has to appreciate the children no matter what they score in
Exam performance shouldn't be a popularity contest, but that is what it has been made into in this
country. There is a high price to the habit.
When a top student countrywide, especially from unknown school is announced; it puts unhealthy
pressure on the young student, a brand awareness of the school is created and the feeling of failure
arises among the multitudes who did not 'excel'.
Even with the tough economic times that are constraining Kenyans' pockets.
Education is one area where they spend big portions of their income on.
Many are ready to pay hefty school fees as long as they are assured that their children will pass the
The economic systems in Kenya today demand that a child goes through vigorous processes of
Education and attains high grades to make it to a white collar job in view of this business people put up
prestigious schools all over the country making money out of the parents.
This desparate situation makes the parents whose children do not perform well to collude with teachers
to cheat in examination.
Equity in Society
The gap between the poor and the rich in society is shown by the poor having to rely on government
funded public schools while the wealthy take their children to private schools where they enjoy
personalized attention from the teaching staff.
The biggest problem occurs during the transition from the pre-school to primary school.
The free primary school leaves out the most important process which is the pre-school level and so the
pupils cannot catch up because of a false start.
Unfortunately for private schools in the attempt to stay at the top, some of the private schools engage in
all manner of malpractices to record success in exams, including over-working the children and
colluding with them to cheat. They end up over-loading the children with text books, forcing them to
cram since their aim is to have them pass the examinations so that the school can rank high. This takes
away the joy of children who do not know how to apply the knowledge they learn to situations.
This does not only defraud the parents but also, it corrodes the national Education goals that include
raising skilled manpower to promote social, economic and technological and industrial needs for
national development and self fulfillment instead of promoting social equity and responsibility,
Education deepens the gap between the rich and the poor in society.
While the rich realise the gaps in education system and take their children to international schools, the
poor can only watch their children go through a tough Education system.
Enrolment in primary schools increased from 5.8 million in 2002 to 7 million in 2003 and 7.2 million
in 2004 (MOEST, 2004). This may have compromised the quality of Education in the country's public
primary schools. Despite the government's effort, primary Education continues to experience many
challenges relating to access, equity and quality (MOEST 2005).
These challenges include:-
Overcrowding in schools
High cost of special equipment for children with special needs diminishing
Gender and regional disparities
Increased number of orphans in and out of school as a result of HIV / AIDS
The free primary Education admission policy which is not age specific
Teachers shortage and distribution
Overall teaching environment
Teachers giving a few assignments because of large numbers
Incomplete coverage of the syllabus
HIV / AIDS pandemic and the slums in which has left many orphans the effect of drugs
Cultural mindset about the girl child.
According to 2000 / 2001 child labour survey, about 30% of parents released their children to work as
domestic workers or in Agricultural farms in order to help family business and supplement family
income. The other sorry state is the girl child who is under constant threat. Young girls are forced into
early marriages in some communities. Many victims of child marriages undergo physical abuse,
forcing them to run away from their husbands and eventually into the streets where they engage in
child prostitution. The increasing number of child marriages in Kenya is prominently featured in the
latest report by a global child rights watch lobby, the international Development law organization. The
report says 27% of rural girls and 19% or urban areas get married before their 18th birthday.
The children Act refers to a child as any person who is below 18 years who must be protected against
harmful cultural practices including early marriages, female genital mutilation and prostitution.
Battles are lost at the altar of religious leaders support such marriages, saying their religion allows girls
to marry even at nine years.