There is general agreement that every child should learn Mathematics at school. Due to the importance attached to Mathematics, the Strengthening Mathematics and Sciences in Secondary School Education In-Service Training program was enacted in Kenya from the year 2004 with the aim of improving the performance in Mathematics. However, despite the in-service training program, the performance in Mathematics has remained averagely the same since then. The program that was under investigation is referred in this paper as SMASSE-inset. This study looked at the perception of secondary school teachers of Mathematics on SMASSE-inset program, specifically on its course content and the methods of teaching. The findings indicated that the teachers did not find the content interesting or relevant in improving Mathematics performance and there was minimal consultation with trainees in selection of content. Secondly, the methods of teaching used did not take care of the adult learners needs. The study recommended that SMASSE-inset course content be formulated after thorough consultation with the teachers on the ground as the curriculum implementers who know what ails them. Another recommendation was that teaching methods should adopt more school visits and group work methods to involve the participants.
Key words: Mathematics, in-service education, SMASSE-inset, perception, course content, methods of teaching
In Kenya Mathematics subject is compulsory in primary and secondary schools. Mathematics is one of the subjects for which there is pressure on every child to succeed (Cockcroft, 1983). According to Caleb (1992), Howson & Griffiths (1989) argue that Mathematics is known to be of great value to the society. It is used throughout the world as an essential tool in many fields, including natural Science, Engineering, Medicine and the Social Sciences. This makes its teaching of great value to the whole of human society. SMASSE-inset program has been running since 1998 pilot phase in Kenya and has been practiced since 2004 in Gem district with the view of improving the performance in Mathematics (SMASSE-Report, 2009).
Efforts to improve Mathematics in Kenya have been going on since independence in 1963. The Ominde Commission of 1965, McKay Report of 1984, Kamunge Commission of 1988 and Koech Commission of 1999 all made recommendations of various natures towards improvement of Mathematics in schools in Kenya. Since independence, Mathematics in Kenya has changed from old Mathematics to new Mathematics and then back to old Mathematics, and now to appropriate Mathematics (SMASSE-Report- 2009).
All these changes have been accompanied by changes in the content and methodologies of teaching and learning Mathematics as well as alteration in resources of teaching and learning Mathematics. Locally, programs such as Strengthening Education in Primary Schools (STEPS) Project, The Early Childhood Development Project (ECDP), Strengthening Primary Education (SPRED II) and (SPRED III), Primary School Management (PRISM), Strengthening Practical Subjects In Primary Education (PRE-SUPE); International Program for Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) and many others have been initiated to provide in-service training as a professional development programs to improve classroom practices and professional growth of the teacher in Kenya. However, despite the efforts, the performance in Mathematics has remained fairly low as compared to other subjects in the school curriculum. One of the most recent efforts to improve the Teaching and learning of Mathematics in Kenya is Strengthening Mathematics and Sciences in Secondary Education In-Service Training (SMASSE-INSET) (SMASSE-Report-...