Push for counties to reserve 10% of budgets for ECDE

by GW Reporter

An international organization is pushing county governments in Kenya to allocate at least 10 percent of their annual budgets for Early Childhood Development and Education (ECDE).

Theirworld representative Gilbert Ngaira noted that the counties would best serve children below 5 years by allocating these resources.

And one out of four children who are below five years in Kenya are stunted while 11 percent are underweight, a scholar on early childhood studies at the Kenyatta University Dr Teresa Mwoma has said.

Dr Mwoma noted that at least 250 million children below five years globally were stunted with 66 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa. The lecturer was speaking at a Nairobi hotel when she addressed a media breakfast on Early Childhood Development and Education (ECDE) organised by a UK-based organization, Theirworld.

She noted that the Sustainable Development Goals which Kenya is a signatory to demand that by 2030 all girls and boys should have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education.

The lecturer who is also a member of the National Centre for Early Childhood Education (NACECE) noted that the government developed an integrated policy on ECDE and also prepared a pre-primary policy to provide guidance towards early childhood education.

“Since devolution, ECDE centres have faced challenges and opportunities to the counties and there’s need to come up with a uniform capitation system for pre-primary funding, ” Dr Mwoma adding that the number of children who had joined ECDE centres had increased from 2.8 million in 2013 to 3.4 million in 2018.

Speaking at the same forum, Mr Ngaira from Theirworld noted that the organization believes that every child deserves the best start in life, a safe place to learn and the skills they need for the future.

“Our ambition on early childhood education is to push governments to invest at least 10 percent of the education budget towards early childhood education. It’s a tall order but it’s an order we have decided to embark on and push,” Mr Ngaira said.

He said research had shown that when one invests one dollar in their child they reaped 17 times more. He however regretted that aid to education was skewed to the most advantaged children below five years.

Theirworld is a UK NGO that lobbies for the first five years of a child’s life as the most critical for a child’s development; and by investing in high-quality Early Childhood Development and Education, countries will be providing a platform for children to thrive throughout the entirety of their education.

The NGO is running a pilot project in four counties in Kenya including Taita Taveta, Kwale, Makueni and Nairobi with the aim of convincing the leadership in the devolved units to increase their budgetary allocation for education to at least 10 percent of their annual budgets.

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