The fate of over two million learners in PP1 and PP2 in early education centers in Kenya remains a mystery even amidst the school reopening date fiasco.
Kenya National Bureau of Statistics 2019 data reveals that 2,738,587 learners got their enrollment in PP1 and PP2 in 2021. However, even as stakeholders are fighting to have KCPE and KCSE candidates back to school to avoid disrupting their whole academic calendar, they are remaining mum about our little learners in Early Childhood Development Centers.
UNESCO recently issued a warning stating that the losses within the first three years of a learner have worse long-term effects than those of learners in higher grades.
Besides, a recent WHO and UNICEF study shows that children that stayed out of school for long suffered lower mental development, with others suffering exposure to sexual violence among other forms of child abuse.
Education experts also back the claim that a wobbly foundation slows down a child’s chances for optimal learning, growth, and development. One Otoa Sifuna, an education expert and teacher revealed to The Standard the benefits of having a consistent and holistic early childhood learning experience;
“ECD is the most crucial developmental for children. If it is missed, it will be difficult to transit to upper levels,” he said.
According to him, some of the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on young learners include making them passive recipients instead of active learners. The learning through watching instead of doing could be a result of uninformed home-schooling and circumstances. With that, he urges the Kenyan government to inspect parental involvement, the empowerment of home-schooling, and the provision of access to learning materials.
Mr.Sifuna added that children ought to learn certain things at specific ages. However, when we force them to remain in a certain class for years without advancing, we affect their development and strain the existing infrastructure. For instance, this has not only forced ECD learners to stay home but demotivates most ECDE teachers that have lost pay and jobs.