Each year, 400,000 bright, young Kenyans graduate from high school. The majority experience a nine-month gap period before starting the new academic year at a public university. PACE leverages this gap period and the students’ untapped potential. The program effectively engages and trains these young people to deliver learning support for students in under-resourced schools across Kenya.
High school graduates apply to the program through a competitive application process that seeks individuals who demonstrate academic excellence, motivation and desire for personal growth, additional skills that they can contribute to the schools for extra-curricular activities, and a clear interest in improving education for children in low-income communities. After recruitment, the cohort of graduates undertake an intensive one-week training course before starting in their allocated school as a part-time teaching assistant (TA). Although voluntary positions, the TAs receive a travel stipend and commit to offering their time for a minimum of 15 hours a week over a period of two terms (six months). This program offers high school graduates an opportunity to develop critical 21st century skills and practical work experience before starting their university placement, and thus, building each individual's personal profile and employability while addressing a critical need in underserved Kenyan schools.
Kenya is experiencing a shortage in teachers, which results in high pupil-teacher ratios, especially in rural areas and informal settlements. PACE addresses this critical challenge by placing enthusiastic high school graduates in some of the most needy schools. Like the graduates, the schools undergo a competitive selection process where they must demonstrate need for additional staffing and willingness to embrace the program and engage their teachers in working with PACE TAs and attending PACE training.
Upon placement, PACE TAs are paired with a teacher at the school and act as a teaching assistant in their class, this may involve leading a section of the lesson, supporting a group of students or helping grade work. Both TAs and the teachers attend in-service PACE training on pedagogy and teaching methods. The TAs also receive additional mentoring on career guidance and financial literacy to further prepare them for the world of work. The working partnership is closely monitored to constantly improve and ensure TAs add real value to the school and learning outcomes of the children. The TAs write weekly reports and complete ongoing assignments. In the two years of operation, the program has shown impact in its schools through increased achievement at KCPE and improved school rankings in their district, which school leaders attribute to the PACE program.
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CEI approaches in action
Participating schools are chosen from the most needy communities with low-income families.
20,000 hours of voluntary service
The program has increased the number of schools it works with as well as increasing the number of TAs recruited.
By 2020, the program seeks to have created 6,000 teaching assistant positions and have reached 270,000 students with educational support through the volunteer program.
Monitoring & Evaluation
Schools complete a weekly report on their TA highlighting strengths and areas for improvement. TAs reflect upon their own practice and attend training sessions to share evaluations. Post-service evaluations, as well as student and teacher surveys, are conducted at the end of each term.
Bohra Primary in Westlands, where PACE has had teaching assistants working in upper primary, had an increase in mean scores (e.g. class 4 mean 270 to 358.67, out of 500). The teachers report a great general improvement in all the classes PACE is in. Bohra has received recognition from the TAC tutors and the area education officers.
North Highridge Primary posted an increased KCPE mean score (226.73 to 250) and received an award for being the most improved in Westlands Subcounty. The scores it had with PACE were the highest ever scored in the past 10 years of the school's history. (PACE also helped the school secure library books and furniture from Storymoja, and it received a school refurbishment from the Tim Wanyonyi foundation as well during this period.)
Edelvale Primary (Jacaranda/ Kayole) improved from 199.35 to 226.73 in KCPE and received the award for most improved in subcounty and received an award from the county.
Kawangware Primary has risen from being No. 23 of 23 in the district to being No. 9 of 23. The senior teacher tells PACE that the scores in exams this year have been so good that the district officials refused to enter them at first and had to call the Head Teacher to verify that the scores were actually from the school. Kawangware, being in a slum area, has been known to perform significantly worse than other schools in the region — hence the surprise by the district officials.
Drive Inn Primary has a similar story where they have risen in their academic performance dramatically. It says that discipline has also really improved because the teaching assistants are involved in peer counseling.