I was grateful to have my Kenyan contact Jane, answer some questions concerning early childhood education in Kenya and also her hopes for her own professional development.
I asked her the following questions:
Q. What issues regarding quality and early childhood professionals are being discussed in Kenya?
A. There is the Teacher Education and Professional Development program (TEPD) which is a partnership between USAID and the Kenyan Ministry of Education whose main aim is to improve the quality of the teacher training programs, strengthening the skills and expertise of educators in order for them to impart a quality education to the children. We are currently having a lot of discussions concerning the quality of teachers because a lot of schools have gone on strike citing absent or underqualified teachers. The students claim that their low grades are as a result of the lack of dedication from the teachers. As you know socially the status of the teacher is highly regarded. Culturally there is a saying that “no one can rise above the level of teachers”. That is why it is important that the government ensures that all schools have quality teachers and continuous professional development should be required of all teachers.
Q. What opportunities and/or requirements for professional development exist?
A. We have a shortage of teacher educators. This shortage undermines the provision of quality teacher education. Institutions like the Kenya Institute of Education and the education departments of Public universities are trying to design courses that address specific needs that are not being met for learners due to skills gaps. Our association, the Kenya Headmistresses Association also makes sure that we offer staff development programs for the early childhood educators. So to answer your question we do not have a lot of opportunities for professional development but the Ministry of Education is trying to address that problem by funding graduate studies for qualified teachers. I personally have a Masters in Early childhood education from the University of Manchester in the UK and the University is sponsoring 10 Kenyan teachers annually for the Master’s program in education in collaboration with the British Council.Q. What are some of your professional goals?
A. I would like to get my doctorate in education and run for public office where I can have a platform to advocate for the importance of early childhood education and education in general and to make sure that these programs are adequately funded.
Q. What are some of your professional hopes, dreams and challenges?
A.My hope is that the education system in Kenya gets revamped and the teachers get the right training. I hope that the government will introduce free preschool education so that more children and families have access to quality early childhood education and I dream that we will attain an education system that caters for all and not just the rich and middle class families.
I was very thankful to Jane for answering all my questions and I hope the system will change in Kenya to be equitable and fair.