Teachers' strategies for managing challenges of integrated English in secondary schools in Kiambu East region, Kiambu county, Kenya
English language and literature in English have been taught as an integrated subject in secondary schools since the inception of the 8:4:4 system of education in Kenya. Since then, various researchers have carried out studies on integrated English. Their general conclusion is that the integrated English course has posed challenges to teachers. The cited causes of the challenges include: inadequate in-service and pre- service training for teachers, lack of knowledge of integrated English course by most teachers, negative attitudes towards the integrated English course, overloaded curriculum and difficult content among others. This is also echoed by various evaluation reports by Kenya Institute of Education. However, no research has been done to investigate the measures that teachers have put into place so as to manage the challenges. The purpose of this study was to investigate the strategies that have been adopted by teachers in Kiambu East region, central Kenya so as to manage the challenges. Specifically, the study sought to investigate the following: how teachers manage the challenge of understanding the concept of integration and difficult content, how teachers cope with the available resources, how teachers cover the syllabus in time and how teachers manage their attitude towards an integrated approach. The study employed the descriptive survey research design. The target population was the 34 secondary schools in Kiambu East. Purposive sampling was used to select the respondents for the study. Schools were selected according to their various categories-provincial, district, private and others. The sample comprised all the heads of department and teachers of integrated English in the 11 selected schools selected by simple random sampling technique. These comprise 32.4% of the schools in the region. Data was collected using questionnaires for teachers and interview schedules for department heads. The researcher used Ms Excel 2003 as an analytical tool. Data was presented using descriptive statistics such as frequencies and percentages. All the responses were organized into various aspects of the study based on the research objectives. Research findings indicate that the most employed strategies in handling lack of knowledge of the concept of integration and difficult content were attending seminars and workshops and holding consultations with colleagues. To manage scarce resources most schools borrowed materials from other schools and encouraged sharing. Extra teaching in the early mornings, evenings, weekends, Saturdays and school holidays were employed by most respondents to manage the challenge of time. Respondents with negative attitude towards an integrated approach attended seminars and workshops while the heads of department motivated them. The study found no variation in strategies employed by respondents with different levels of experience. The study concludes that challenges of teaching integrated English are rife and in response, teachers have adopted strategies for managing the challenges; relevant government agencies ought to get involved in assisting teachers. In view of the findings, the researcher recommends: Continuous Teacher Development Programmes in addition to seminars and workshops, head teachers to borrow a leaf from corporate institutions and organize team-building activities for teaching staff, resources be availed to schools more efficiently and that the government should consider allowing extra paid teaching commonly referred to as tuition.
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