Importance of training high school teachers in Dadaab

First of all, why are secondary (high school) graduates hired as teachers in their own schools as soon as they graduate? To answer this question, let me give a brief summary of how secondary schools are run in Dadaab. In Dadaab there used to be three secondary schools; one in each of the three main refugee camps that make up Dadaab camp: Ifo, Dagahaley and Hagadera. The number of untrained teachers used to be few. In the last eight years or so more people have fled to Dadaab, and as a result the camps were expanded with new camps eventually created. The increase in population meant that primary (elementary) schools have increased in population which has led to more students wanting to and qualifying for secondary education.. Currently there are seven high schools in Dadaab. They are managed by only one non-profit organisation formerly CARE International but now Windle Trust Kenya (WTK). Hiring trained teachers, who are all Kenyans, is costly for the NGO since they earn teacher salaries as well as free accommodation. The process of hiring trained teachers from Kenya is quite lengthy because they may come from different parts of the country. The refugee teachers are readily available; all have the energy and the potential to immediately start teaching their fellow refugees. However, refugee teachers, because they are untrained and non-Keyan usually receive meagre payments for their work.

Providing training to refugee secondary teachers like the Teacher Education Program facilitated by some universities in Canada and Kenya will expose teachers to use of technologies and proper teaching methodologies that they  can use in their day to day knowledge delivery. Untrained teachers may attach more value to the conveyance of the theoretical aspect of the teaching than the delivery method, evaluation and reflection on what methodologies worked and why they did or didn’t have any impact. Such knowledge upgrading programs will enable refugee teachers to develop and/or maintain the high level of academic and professional standards required of high school teachers as well as becoming more creative on their jobs and improve their teaching styles and skills.

Teachers may also become more specialized on some few subjects. It is common in Dadaab secondary schools that teachers are tasked with teaching a variety of subjects at different times. Specialization may build their strengths on a few subjects and make them more passionate about teaching those subjects. It can also enable them to track their progress as they teach the same subjects year after year. Students have different needs and teachers vary in characteristics. The program can create better incentives for teachers to acquire the skills that students want. This can allow for teachers and their students to be better matched together, and hence promotes growth.

Finally, due to limitation of resources Dadaab teachers are sometimes expected to handle huge workload which especially new teachers may have difficult to bear with that and can lead to burn out and stress. Training can help them properly manage  the challenges they face in their different areas of teaching, which can be directly or indirectly related to teaching, in an environment where all the life hurdles outside of school can easily affect teaching and learning in schools. The teaching skills they learn in the training can promote better ways of teaching and advance student-teacher relationship which can in turn improve the quality of education in Dadaab to a more impressive level.