Transforming teaching in Kenya | Global Partnership for Education

Transforming teaching in Kenya

Sixth grade teacher Evelyne Saru Mchori works with ICT Technician James Mwamta who helps teachers enter their TPAD (Teacher Performance Appraisal and Development tool) self-appraisals online. Location: Miritini Primary School, Mombasa County, Kenya. Credit: GPE/Kelley Lynch
Sixth grade teacher Evelyne Saru Mchori works with ICT Technician James Mwamta who helps teachers enter their TPAD (Teacher Performance Appraisal and Development tool) self-appraisals online. Location: Miritini Primary School, Mombasa County, Kenya.
CREDIT: GPE/Kelley Lynch

Teacher absenteeism has been an increasing problem in Kenya. Teachers miss classes due to illness, a family emergency, or for official work other than teaching. Regardless, the outcome is the same: their students miss out on their education. The 2015 Global Monitoring Report noted up to 20% teacher absenteeism in Kenya.

After years of poor results on learning outcomes, the teaching profession in Kenya is getting a makeover, thanks in part to a US$88.4 million grant from GPE. The grant also supports textbooks printing and distribution, and school improvement grants since 2015.

The Teacher Performance Appraisal Development tool (TPAD) is part of the GPE-funded Kenya’s PRIEDE project (Primary Education Development project), which focuses on strengthening school systems and governance. The project targets 4,000 public primary schools with poor performance and supports each school with a US$5,000 grant to develop and implement a school improvement plan (SIP).

Head teachers from poor performing schools in Nyeri County gather to work with Ministry of Education staff at a workshop to help them prepare their school improvement plans. Credit: GPE/Kelley Lynch

Head teachers from poor performing schools in Nyeri County gather to work with Ministry of Education staff at a workshop to help them prepare their school improvement plans.

Photo Credit: GPE/Kelley Lynch

Monitoring teacher attendance and performance

Developed and managed by the Teacher Service Commission (TSC), the entity that employs Kenya’s teachers, the TPAD allows the TSC to not only monitor teachers’ attendance and syllabus coverage, but also their classroom performance, professional knowledge, innovation and creativity, and engagement with parents, among other things.

Head teacher Philemon Mwalukumbi observes teacher Evelyne Saru Mchori in her sixth grade classroom. Under the new TPAD (Teacher Performance Appraisal and Development tool) system, teachers are observed in the classroom at least once per term. Credit: GPE/Kelley Lynch

Head teacher Philemon Mwalukumbi observes teacher Evelyne Saru Mchori in her sixth grade classroom. Under the new TPAD (Teacher Performance Appraisal and Development tool) system, teachers are observed in the classroom at least once per term.

Photo Credit: GPE/Kelley Lynch

It revolves around regular classroom observations of every teacher in the country by county education supervisors. The resulting appraisals, along with the teacher’s self-appraisal, are uploaded every school term via the TPAD tool on the TSC website. The result is an online database that the TSC uses in decision-making.

After class head teacher Philemon Mwalukumbi explains his observations to teacher Evelyne Saru Mchori in her sixth grade classroom. Miritini Primary School, Mombasa County, Kenya. Credit: GPE/Kelley Lynch

After class head teacher Philemon Mwalukumbi explains his observations to teacher Evelyne Saru Mchori in her sixth grade classroom. Miritini Primary School, Mombasa County, Kenya.

Photo Credit: GPE/Kelley Lynch

In the online tool, teachers must rate themselves in terms of professional knowledge and application, time management, innovation and creativity in teaching, learners’ protection, safety, discipline and teacher conduct, promotion of co-curricular activities, professional development, and collaboration with parents/guardians and other key stakeholders, among other things.

Subscribe to blog alerts

“Our decisions are very objective now,” Caroline Mwakisha, TSC County Director for Mombasa County explained. “It is your performance that will determine whether we can deploy you to become a head teacher or a classroom teacher, for example. We are also able to identify performance gaps and areas of weakness in our teachers and address them through training programs, peer teaching, etc.”

Initial results show big improvements

The results are, in Ms. Mwakisha’s words, “enormous”.

“The teachers are now on their toes,” she says. “They are on time. They understand their role and they feel accountable.”

It is also having an impact on student absenteeism and drop out – and improving student performance.

“With the introduction of the TPAD, the child has become client #1 for the teacher,” Ms. Mwakisha explained. “This positive attitude means children now love to come to school and the dropout rate is going down.”

TAPD was introduced after rolling out a new teacher training package and a government-led reform of teacher salary and incentives.

Mercy Nelly (left),12, governor of her sixth-grade class, and Margaret Nyamoki (right), 12, the school’s education secretary, mark their sixth-grade teacher, Evelyne Saru Mchori, present. Mercy also notes what time the teacher arrives at class, what time she leaves and what she covers in the lesson.  Credit: GPE/Kelley Lynch

Mercy Nelly (left),12, governor of her sixth-grade class, and Margaret Nyamoki (right), 12, the school’s education secretary, mark their sixth-grade teacher, Evelyne Saru Mchori, present. Mercy also notes what time the teacher arrives at class, what time she leaves and what she covers in the lesson.

Photo Credit: GPE/Kelley Lynch

Challenges to overcome

Implementation started just one year ago, and the roll out was not without hurdles. Access to computers, tablets and even smart phones is still limited in many parts of the country. This, combined with a slow system and limited bandwidth, present challenges for most teachers faced with completing regular reports - not least for the estimated more than 30 percent of teachers who are computer illiterate.

These issues are on the TSC’s radar, and remedies are in the works, including improvements to the website and regular ICT skills training for teachers.

But these challenges in no way diminish Ms. Mwakish’s appraisal of the TPAD’s usefulness: “The TPAD has made teaching a new career: it has finally gotten the dignity it deserves. And today’s teacher is a new teacher. They are motivated, they are focused and they are happy. They are proud to be teachers - which is a beautiful thing.”

“Thanks to the TPAD, the next generation of Kenyans will be very different from those who came before. If you ask me, it is the best thing that ever happened to Kenya.”

Teachers
Sub-Saharan Africa: Kenya

Author(s)

The Global Partnership for Education Secretariat is headquartered in Washington DC and has approximately 100 staff. The Secretariat provides administrative and operational support to all its partners including 65 developing...

Latest blogs

World Humanitarian Day is held every year on August 19 to raise awareness and support for those individuals that are affected by crisis around the world. It is also a day to pay tribute to aid...
In an effort to further enhance its impact, GPE is in the process of developing two new funding mechanisms which aim to fund knowledge and innovation work and support social accountability and...
Earlier this month, GPE CEO Alice Albright visited Japan and Australia to meet with partners and discuss how best to collaborate in the context of the upcoming GPE replenishment.