By John Machio.
All Primary school teachers would have to undertake Special Needs Education (SNE) training to be registered by Teachers Service Commission, Education News has learnt.
Major reforms have been made in the Teacher Training Curriculum, and it’s now a policy that for a teacher to be engaged in service, must have trained in Special Needs Education. And to be hired either by public or private institution; you must be registered by TSC.
The revised curriculum to be rolled out in January 2018 also requires Early Childhood Development Education (ECDE) teachers to go through Special Needs Education training process to be fully recognized as competent to teach Early Years Education which is the first level of the Kenyan education system. Turn to page 2
The new policy that every teacher should take a Diploma in Special Needs Education is, however, silent on teachers who are already in service but have not taken a Certificate/Diploma in SNE.
The looming changes are not categorical on the Kenya Institute of Special Education (KISE), the facility mandated by Education Act to exclusively offer training in Special Needs Education.
KISE was established in 1986 to provide world-class training in Special Needs Education, and more so, to produce educational materials, and assistive devices for persons with disability.
The future of the Institute, the only of its kind in Sub-Saharan Africa now hangs in the balance. It is a Semi-Autonomous Government Agency (SAGA) of the Ministry of Education having been established through a Legal Notice No. 17 of February 14th, 1986.
Among other functions of KISE is to conduct in-service courses for personnel working in all fields of Special Needs Education; prepare and conduct correspondence courses for personnel in the field of Special Needs Education.
It is also mandated run an educational and psychological assessment centre for the training of teachers of children with Special Needs and Disabilities; run orientation and mobility centre for training and demonstration purposes.
KISE likewise conducts research in Special Needs Education and maintain, repair, design, produce and assemble special materials and equipment for persons with Special Needs and Disabilities.
Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development has also phased out P1 Certificate course; and students joining Teacher Training Colleges (TTCs) next year will pursue a Diploma as opposed to the current Certificate course, and will be required to have scored at least a C+ (Plus) in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examinations to qualify for admission.
According to the Director of KICD, Dr. Julius Jwan the new changes in the teacher training curriculum are designed to improve the caliber of graduates teaching in Primary schools, besides ensuring they remain globally competitive.
“Every teacher joining TTC will be trained on Special Needs, this is in-line with a draft framework for Teacher Education in Kenya that once approved, will guide Teacher Training Colleges.
“This will be a departure from the current situation where the teachers are taken through a system that solely focuses on how to teach children who do not suffer from partial or profound hearing and visual impairment, physical and mental challenges,” states the Director in a Press release.
The ‘Basic Education Curriculum Framework’ spearheaded by KICD seeks to replace the current 8-4-4 system that has been criticized for being too exam oriented at the expense of other leaners’ abilities.
KICD Director says the piloting that is targeting more than 30,000 learners will help review the curriculum further to ensure it is universally acceptable before being implemented in all schools in January 2018.
He notes that unlike before, representatives of learners with Special Needs are part of the ongoing education reforms to ensure their interests are catered for. “Teachers trained on Special Needs for various categories of learners are part of the pilot phase. We are able to tap into their experience to enrich the competency-based curriculum,” said Dr. Jwan.
KICD Senior Assistant Director – Special Needs Education, Beth Kinuthia said teachers in TTCs were trained on how to teach regular learners. She said it was after the P1 training that they could decide to go for a Diploma in Special Needs Education at KISE.
“In the Teacher Education Framework being designed, we have considered teachers who will be working with children with Special Needs. The concept given to teachers will enhance inclusive education where learners with Special Needs will enjoy learning without feeling lost,” said Mrs. Kinuthia.
It has also been disclosed that the Teacher Education Framework whose findings are based on a countrywide study will go a long way in ensuring teaching and learning materials developed for regular learners are friendly to those with Special Needs.
“We have pupils with hearing impairment, physically and mentally handicapped. We also have children with profound and partial visual impairment who can’t share learning resources. Those without hands need page turners and pen holders.
“This group of learners has remained a disadvantaged lot over the years because they have been sitting the same national examinations under a curriculum that does not cater for their shortcomings,” said Mrs. Kinuthia.
The new curriculum seeks to address such inadequacies that have left parents with disabled children feeling neglected, besides, the current education system failing to recognize and nurture their talents and interests.
Out of the 470 schools that the Government has identified for piloting the proposed curriculum, two in each county must be enrolling learners with Special Needs.