ECDE SECTOR STILL FACING CHALLENGES DESPITE PROGRESS MADE OVER THE YEARS.
By Fridah Okachi
Early childhood education is a crucial stepping stone in developing a child’s future by offering a platform to learn and interact with others. In general, investing in Early Childhood Development (ECD) has strong returns to individuals, communities, and the national economy.
Over the years, early childhood education in Kenya has received massive support from the government, especially with the onset of devolution. Despite the progress made, like hiring more teachers and constructing new facilities, Kenya’s early childhood sector is still facing several challenges.
According to Dr. Teresa Mwoma, a Senior Lecturer at Kenyatta University, early childhood specialist, lack of enough teachers is the major setback facing ECDE.
The Ministry of Education data indicates that the teacher-pupil ratio is 1:37 in public pre-primary schools and 1:21 in private institutions. The figures vary from the recommended 1:25 pupils.
Figures released by the ministry further indicate that there has been a steady growth in the number of primary education learning institutions and enrollments. The number of pre-primary learning centers increased from 41,779 in 2017 to 46,530 as of 2019. On enrolment, there were 2.7 million learners in pre-primary centers as of 2019.
To determine the actual situation on the ground, Mtaani Radio visited several institutions across the city. At Goodrich Academy in Dagoretti sub-county, Irene Mwache, an EDE teacher, notes that challenges such as insufficient learning materials still exist but she acknowledged improvements in the sector.
She cites the lack of books and desks as the key obstacle. Notably, most institutions grapple with a lack of appropriate desks to cater to the ECDE category.
The African Population Health Center report indicates that over 90% of the ECDE schools have age-appropriate desks and tables for learners. In comparison, slightly 84% of ECDE schools have age-appropriate chairs and benches.
Elsewhere, at Westland’s Early Childhood Education Center, a public institution within Kangemi ward, Maurine Shimbika, with over ten years of experience, indicates that the sector has changed over the years.
Still, the high number of pupils poses a challenge in comparison to available resources.
In general, early childhood centers serve a critical responsibility of preparing children for the future. Therefore, more investments need to be made in the sector to address emerging challenges.
This story was produced by Fridah Okachi at Mtaani Radio in partnership with Code for Africa, Kenya Community Media Network and the Catholic Media Council with support from the German Cooperation as a part of the Our County Our Responsibility project.