Every year, there is a big number of teachers leaving the teaching profession in Kenya. Some leave due to exiting to other careers, promotion, discipline, venturing into business, relocating to abroad, stress and burn out, on medical grounds, transfer, demotion, being retired on public interest, mandatory retirement and so on. In whichever way a teacher leaves a School, it’s stability and achievement is affected in one way or another. We need to be cognizant of the fact that there is an acute shortage of teachers. There are some exits which can be controlled whereas others cannot (natural attrition).
This article will address the meaning of teacher mobility, causes of teacher mobility, effects of teacher mobility and remedies to this occurrence in our Schools.
There are many similarities and differences among teachers around the world. This is based on certification requirements, responsibility of the government, teacher’s role, salaries, devolution and context of teaching. This paper focuses on teachers employed by Teachers Service Commission (TSC) in Kenya and who teach in formal educational contexts such as a School as their main role.
Teaching is a highly complex activity. A teacher’s professional duties may extend beyond formal teaching outside classroom. Teachers may accompany students in field trips, supervise them in study rooms, help in organization of School functions and act as supervisors of extra-curricular activities in some education systems. Teachers may also be responsible for student discipline, overall School administration, collection and spending School fees especially for those with authority to incur expenditure (AIE).
Teaching is a social practice that takes place in a specific context (time, place, culture, socio-political economic situation) and therefore is shaped by the values of that specific context. Teacher’s professional qualification may include the study of pedagogy (The Science of teaching). Teaching therefore is the process of attending to people’s needs, experiences and feelings and intervening so that they learn particular things and go beyond the given. Teachers facilitate student learning often in a School. The real buck of learning takes place is self-study and problem solving with a lot of feedback from the teachers. A teacher is a motivator, provider of knowledge and insight, mentor and problem solver.
A teacher should be admired, appreciated and held in high esteem. Good teachers should be dedicated to their work and the institutions in which they work. A School is an educational institution designed to provide learning spaces and learning environments for the teaching of students or pupils under the direction of teachers.
Teacher mobility (movement) is linked to School stability. Both good and bad teachers have a higher likelihood of leaving teaching, but Schools should guard against losing the best teachers or even losing their worst teachers.
Schools stability (remaining in Schools of origin) should be emphasized. Policy makers should really promote school’s stability which in turn enhances School continuity. This is because improvement of Schools goes hand in hand with improvement of teachers. Practices like teacher involvement in businesses can lead to lack of seriousness in the teaching profession due to divided attention and hence compromising on their key academic roles as teachers. Schools should therefore invest on quality teachers. This cannot be possible without dedicated, enough and stable teachers who can teach effectively and efficiently. Teachers are the most important resources to the society and Schools. Without teachers, the learning process will be hindered regardless of whether or not there is availability of desks, buildings and other teaching and learning materials. Any decision we make therefore in relation to teacher mobility can determine our destiny. We need enough qualified teachers for School stability. Unless we pay close attention to mobility, It may be difficult to attract and retain qualified teachers into our Schools. Good teachers are important for quality education.
CAUSES/ DRIVERS OF TEACHER MOBILITY
- Organizational stress and burnout/teacher dissatisfaction/enormous desperation
- Leadership/poor School administrative systems/dictatorship
- Lack of politicalgood will
- Lack of good education policy
- Teaching profession being used as a bridge to other careers/employment changes/change of profession
- Acquisition of more experience and advanced qualifications hence likelihood of wanting to leave the teaching profession/acquisition of more experience and advanced qualifications hence likelihood of wanting to leave the teaching profession.
- Poor remuneration/no payment of good salaries/Meagre salaries
- Difficulties in work stations/difficult conditions particularly in rural areas/geographical and School environmental factors/lack of attractive/conducive environment
- Poor performance due to demotivation or putting in low efforts /Low teacher motivation
- Desire to cause long term pains to Schools or learners (revenge)
- Failure to fit properly into present schools due to improper teacher-School matching
- Rising cost of living e.g house rent
- Decision to be close to teacher’s current home/family/spouses/institution of study
- Residential move/relocation
- Further studies/pursuing courses not related to teaching profession
- Much hatred towards the teaching profession
- Low value for teaching profession
- Negative attitude towards teaching
- Learners indiscipline
- Wrong misconception that teaching is a vocation/being unnecessarily tired about teaching
- Denial of teacher’s rights
- Unfriendly policies like transfers, promotion e.t.c.
EFFECTS OF SCHOOL MOBILITY
- Weakened school stability
- Poor learner achievement
- Low educational standards/quality
- General under development/neglect of rural places
- Failure to attract qualified teachers into Schools/teacher shortage
- Weak student-teacher relationships
- Fear of potential teachers being wrongly labelled hence avoiding the profession
- Disregard for long-term planning by teachers for their students
PANACEA TO SCHOOL MOBILITY
- Every stakeholder should acknowledge the role of teachers in education and society
- Teaching should not be regarded as a last resort for those who could not excel in other careers
- Proper teacher-School matching should be carried out during posting or transfers so as to increase productivity and student achievement. Individual factors/rights/consideration should be taken into account. This should be done professionally and be governed by clear rules and due process followed.
- Teacher motivation should be addressed keenly. Motivated teachers tend to stay in a given School longer and vice versa
- Forced movements should be avoided at all costs where possible
- Good working environment like housing should be provided to teachers so that they can perform their duties well
- Leadership approach should change and be democratic and participatory
- Good government policies targeting transition, promotion, payment for teacherse.t.c should be pursued.
There is need for the Ministry of Education (MoE) and Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to develop strategies aimed at keeping and motivating teachers in rural and harsh environments. Hardship allowance is not enough.
Teacher placement must be based on individualized consideration taking into account factors like age of the teacher, distance to commute, personal safety issues, health, length of anticipated stay in a school and the time remaining in the School year or before a teacher’s retirement. Teachers should be selected on the basis of the best interest determination. High teacher turnover affects student’s learning.
Provision of support networks, counselling, mentoring, promotions and other incentives can go a long way in minimizing teacher mobility.
Teachers should adopt a growth mindset through developing collaborative relationships with colleagues, administrators and learners. Good teachers are key for quality education.
It is my hope that good teachers will continue to be good and other good ones will show up. Teachers who change schools often may have a tougher time developing supportive relationships, being effective and enabling children to achieve academically.