Secondary school principals and their deputies will from next year be required to have a master's degree in education in new staffing changes announced by their employer on Tuesday.
Primary school head teachers and their deputies will also be required to have a minimum of a first degree in education, the Teachers Service Commission chief Nancy Macharia said.
The changes are likely to herald a scramble for degrees by the teachers keen to safeguard their jobs or earn a promotion.
Mrs Macharia told the 12,000 teachers to embrace the new policy and make the necessary adjustments to their credentials.
She spoke at the official opening of the 13th annual Kenya Primary School Head Teachers Association conference at Sheikh Zayed Children's Welfare Centre in Mombasa.
BACK TO SCHOOL
"Those who lack the required academic qualifications will be given time to go back to school and acquire them," said Mrs Macharia, who added that deputy head teachers and deputy principals will not be allowed to serve in the same institution for more than nine years.
She explained that the changes were meant to ensure high quality teaching to improve the learning experience.
The new policy will also affect the 105 technical training institutes and teacher training colleges.
The country has about 23,000 heads in public primary schools and about 8,600 principals in secondary schools.
The latest move will herald a boom for universities, which must now be prepared to enrol thousands of teachers who have no first degrees or masters.
Mrs Macharia said the commission was re-organising the school management structure with a stronger focus on experience, performance and grade.
"For example, while primary schools with up to two streams will have one deputy and one senior teacher, primary schools with 24 classes (three streams) and a maximum of 1,200 pupils and those with 32 classes (four streams) and a maximum of 1,600 learners will be assigned two deputies and two senior teachers," she said.
She said the commission has created departments in primary schools to be headed by senior teachers, adding that all internal administrative roles would be filled competitively.
Mrs Macharia said headteachers will not serve in their home counties or in one institution for more than nine years in a move meant to de-localise management, improve cohesion and deepen appreciation of Kenya's diverse cultures.
"We will not allow head teachers to serve in their home counties. It will effectively address issues of conflict of interest that may arise. You k now what has been happening. This is a major paradigm shift to improve management of institutions," she said and added that refresher courses under the teacher professional development programme were ready for roll-out next year.
The courses will be accessed at school level and training centres during school holidays and online.
"Subject teachers in an institution will be required to meet on specific days in a week to discuss and find solutions to issues that affect teaching and learning in their subjects," said the official.
"The courses will help teachers continuously learn from each other and create Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) through critical reflection with colleagues," she said and added that the new curriculum will make schooling more functional by equipping learners with life skills.
The TSC will support implementation of the new curriculum by ensuring that all teachers are adequately trained for it.
The theme for this year's conference is Re-Engineering the Teaching Profession in the 21st Century for Effective Curriculum Reform.
Head teachers welcomed the new policy, saying they are ready for reforms.
Ndome Primary School head teacher Granton Mwaliko said most teachers had acquired the required professional documents.
"We want to improve education and bring sanity. Most of us have degrees and I am sure those who don't have the required documents are ready to enrol in universities," he said.