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KENYA: Teacher Enhancement Program

Local Partners: Strathmore University

Year: 2010/11


With over 6 million school-aged children and only 700,000 who reach secondary school, Kenya faces a difficult challenge. In the outskirts of the urban areas, poor teacher morale and lack of government funding for education is pronounced and contributes in no small way to poor student retention. Yet the next generation of Kenya’s leaders needs to be properly educated today. The school could be an oasis in the middle of all the privations that the children live and grow up in daily. Teachers are, often, the only point of reference for the younger generations.

For some years, Strathmore University’s Institute of Humanities Education and Development Studies (IHEDS) has been running one-week leadership training programs for Primary and Secondary School teachers. By mid-year 2008 over 2,000 educators had attended either training at Strathmore or courses organized by the University in the field. But how much of an impact can a one-week program make? A big one. The training changes attitudes and that change, in turn, makes a major difference in the lives of children.

Many kids miss days of school because there are no toilets but also because the food quality in the lunch program is deplorable. The first thing school personnel do after the Strathmore University training is to use part of their school income to build or rehabilitate bathrooms. They put doors on them and make it possible to use them properly. They then rehabilitate the kitchens and set out to train their kitchen staff to prepare good meals. Thanks to classes in Ethical Financial Management, teachers learn to put money into the school, to buy desks and books, to keep buildings in good repair, to upgrade science labs, to refurbish student living quarters, to buy new mattresses. This gives the children a minimum of comfort that some might not even have at home.

Kenyan school

Many primary school children take care of their AIDS-infected parents. In some schools it is assumed that these children are also infected. In many cases, they suffer harsh stigmatization. Once teachers take part in the Teacher Enhancement Program training, their approach towards the stigmatized children becomes much more humane. Thanks to a training segment on Christian Ethics, the teachers learn to reach out to the children and parents with greater compassion. As a result, the children are often more accepted in their schools and communities.

Teachers who have been through the Teacher Enhancement Program take a more proactive stand in the education of children. They understand the importance of their behavior and the influence they can have in each child’s life. This improved teacher morale has a dramatic impact on the quality of education each child receives. The teachers are happier overall and more likely to make recommendations for improvements to department heads. This greater optimism does still more to help the kids, who have a better school experience and are, therefore, more likely to stay in school longer.

One of the courses of the Teacher Enhancement Program focuses on how to bring school and home together. Upon training completion, teachers typically call a meeting to talk to parents about what they have learned in the program. One excellent result so far is that parents have then gotten together and closed down drug dens and pornographic video dens. They have adopted a much more positive attitude toward teachers and ask regularly for school reports. Now they actually try to keep their children in school.

To find out more about how the Teacher Enhancement Program helps improve the local communities, click here.