Advantages & Disadvantages of Becoming a Teacher in Kenya 2018

6 min read

Teaching in kenya is known as "a noble profession" because of the influence a teacher can have on children in general and those who will become tomorrow's leaders. But teaching may be noble because of the challenges teachers must deal with every day. 

Changing Lives and Caring Too Much

Teaching is a profession where you really can make a difference in a child’s life, oftentimes profoundly. You are with children for a good part of the day, longer than their parents are, in most cases

Degree of Autonomy

You have a high degree of autonomy as a teacher. You are the boss of your classroom. You decide how the classroom is set up and what the rules will be. You have a set curriculum, but you can vary the way you teach it. You get to choose to teach children at the ages you like best, especially as you gain seniority.

Variety and Adherence to Schedules

Many teachers say they love that every day is different in teaching. Yes, you do follow a schedule, but it's a little different every day because of classes like music, art and physical education. And there are extras like assemblies, celebrations and fire drills. Each child is an individual who brings something different to the classroom each day, too, often making you laugh whether you want to or not.

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Short Days and Time Off

Since teachers are paid to work only when school is in session, they usually don't work in the summer. They also typically have extended time off in the spring and at the end of the year around the Christmas and New Year holidays. If you have children of your own, you won't need to find sitters for them and can enjoy the time together. The school day ends earlier than the regular business day, so teachers can get home earlier.

Teaching as a Second Career

Some people look for a new career after retiring. Many choose to teach because they have a wealth of knowledge to share. For example, an engineer may teach physics. A former mechanic may teach auto mechanics in a trade school. A retired accountant may teach accounting in college.

Why many teachers wish to quit the profession (Disadvantages)

A report released by the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) reveals that majority of teachers in public school wish to quit their profession. The study indicates that 76 per cent out of the 286 000 teachers in public schools are unhappy with their job.

The report identifies failure to meet their professional and personal needs as some of the factors that teachers attribute for their dissatisfaction with teaching in a report the titled Trends of the Needs of Teachers in Public School in Kenya 2015. Many teachers interviewed in the study said they were ready to leave the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) should an opportunity arise.

While the Education ministry and the TSC may dismiss the study by Knut as self-serving, its findings are almost similar to those released by Education International during a world conference on education held in Nairobi last year.

Teachers who participated in the study identified poor salaries and allowances, promotions and society’s lack of appreciation of their work reasons why they want to quit teaching. These factors have been on Knut’s agenda for a long time. Between 1997 and early this year, teachers have gone on strike more than eight times to demand for pay increases.

The report also cites lack of capacity building, promotions and insecurity as some of the professional needs that are likely to push teachers to seek alternative jobs. Nevertheless, one of the less acknowledged fact about teaching is the unfavourable working conditions that schools in Kenya are.

For example, lack of modern infrastructure to support teaching remain the biggest challenge in many schools in different parts of Kenya. Some schools exist only by name since classes are conducted in open ground, under a tree because of lack of classrooms. Basic furniture such as chairs, tables and black board for teachers are a pipe dream.

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Other schools do not have a laboratory for teaching practical the Sciences. Teachers in such situations are required to improvise the required items despite the fact that it practically impossible to offer quality teaching and learning without the necessary equipment.

Another reason that makes the school a harsh environment is the workload. In most schools, the teacher-student ratio is 1:80 in just one class. Effective teaching in such a case becomes an energy-draining undertaking. This is often likely to cause frustration and stress especially when a teacher has to prepare notes for teaching, marking assignments as well as a series of examinations during the term.

In addition, each teacher must take other responsibilities such as class teachers as well as physical education tutors. They participate in games as coaches for least one discipline, take up a club and a group of students as its head of family. It does not matter whether one is trained or experienced in any of these areas.

Each teacher is also required to sit in at least one of the committees in the institution.

The syllabus design makes teaching frustrating. The content is repetitive and sometimes extremely detailed. Some of the approved textbooks even contain irrelevant details that require innovative teachers to conduct independent research to meet the demand of the syllabus. This puts teachers under great pressure to cover the syllabus is often an unachievable feat.

Those who work in far-flung areas have other issues to deal with. For instant, some communities and students are hostile to teachers posted to their schools. The community may have reservations about teachers who do not belong to the ethnicity, region or religion. This was evident among teachers who had been working in the counties of Wajir, Mandera and Garissa.

The plethora of teething problems affecting teachers in public schools has led a raft of survival tactics if only to stay afloat. One result of the conflicting and unrealistic expectation of a teacher’s role is chronic absenteeism.

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Work related stress, depression and burnout are common complaints among teachers. Alcoholism is another effect that is attributed to the unfavourable working conditions in schools. A number of teachers, both male and female, have become alcohol addicts as one way of coping with their misery at the work place.

Indeed, TSC has acknowledged the problem and announced plans to roll out counselling programmes to support those who are addicted to the bottle.

Moreover, the profession is one of the most hard hit by divorce cases. Because of the nature of their work, they do not give quality time to their own children or spouses.

Others work far away from their families and the only time they visit is during holidays. Also while the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) struggles to develop digital content for schools, many teachers are stuck with the old-fashioned chalk and blackboard. These traditional tools of trade of a teacher have been banned in most countries because of health problems such as respiratory diseases.

Of course, the country is still a long way from solving the current challenges that teachers have to deal with but it can be done.

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