By Raisa Okwaras
The Senate report dubbed “the Status of Implementation of Early Childhood Development Education (ECDE) in the Country” has revealed that the number of ECDE learners and teachers continues to drop despite funding by devolved governments.
According to the report, the county governments in Kenya raised funding from ksh.386.3 million in 2013 to ksh.4.97 billion in the 2019/2020 fiscal year. Also, the learners’ enrollment went up between 2013 and 2016, from 3.019 million to 3.199 million, resulting in a 6-percent increase rate. Yet, the enrollment rate fell by nineteen percent in 2018, from 3.39 million learners to 2.738 million learners.
The Government of Kenya has attributed the fall in enrollment to the introduction of the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC). In addition, baby class, nursery class, and pre-unit have brought about redundancy, which the government has been pushing to curb.
Other enabling factors that have remained consistent in the counties include inadequate ECDE centers, teachers plus caregivers, inadequate playing and teaching materials in ECDE centers, and low staff morale owing to low pay.
For instance, Kilifi county had 80,315 learners in 2016 but the numbers dropped to 23,166 in 2019. On the other hand, Kakamega county’s numbers dropped from 100,918 to 59, 763 within the same period. Kitui county also saw a decline from 84,665 to 46,532 learners.
The heavy funding by the counties resulted in a 14.5 percent increase in ECDE centers between 2013 and 2019. The total number of ECDE centers went up from 24,767 in 2013 to 28,383 in 2019. The report attributes the increase to the Ministry of Education (MoE) guidelines that encourage the establishment of pre-primary schools within a 2-kilometer radius of learners’ residential radius. The ECDE centers also ought to be within sight of local primary schools.
Even still, counties like Nyeri, Homa Bay, and Trans Nzoia have registered a decrease in the number of ECDE centers established within the period.
In general, the decline in the number of centers is blamed on the number of private ECDE centers that continue to sprout in the country. For instance, the ECDE centers increased by 486 in Turkana, 429 in Murang’a, and 402 in Samburu counties.
Also, the report attributed the decline to a lack of basic facilities like toilets, playgrounds, play materials, and learning resources. Some fail to put resources to accommodate learners with special needs requirements.
Between 2016 and 2019, the number of ECDE teachers reduced by 30 percent, from 68,823 to 52,780 teachers. Here, the blame is on county governments, who are progressing towards the execution of the scheme of service launched in 2018.
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