In a major boost to young learners, the Taita Taveta County government has embraced Early Childhood Development and Education (ECDE) which has seen its enrolment grow by 4000 since 2014 to stand at 11,000 children.
The county government further targets to employ 600 teachers to handle the learners.
The county has backed this position by increasing its education budget to Sh150m during the current financial year leading to increase of ECDE centres to stand at 334 to handle the early learners aged four and five years for pre-primary one and two classes respectively.
This was said by the Taita Taveta County Executive Council (CEC) Member for Education Mr Daniel Makoko Mwakisha during a media familiarisation trip organized by Theirworld, an international organization that champions for the first five years of a child’s life as the most critical in their development hence the need for high-quality investment in ECDE. Theirworld is calling on governments across the world to increase their spending on ECDE to at least 10% of their education budgets.
The team visited two ECDE centres at Wesu and Nguraru in Wundanyi sub-county.
“As a county government we embarked on improving infrastructure and we have a number of permanent structures for these children. We also wanted to encourage more of our children to join ECDE centres and came up with a capitation policy for each child to receive sh1000 per year to cater for the feeding program and for teaching and learning materials,” Mr Mwakisha noted when he addressed the media after meeting Theirworld team.
The county has so far recruited 450 trained teachers who are competent in preparing learners for the new Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) while it has advertised for a further 215 to be deployed to the ECDE centres to meet the national requirement of at least two for each of the 334 centres across the county, the CEC for education added.
Taita Taveta county is grappling on how to deal with the location of the ECDE centres to ensure that they are within the learners’ easy reach and to keep the enrolment at numbers that are manageable for the teachers.
However, the CEC said the greatest challenge is the amount of money allocated to the department which now stands at Sh150m and deemed to be the highest amount of money that can be set aside for ECDE.[GWK1]
“The greatest challenge we’re facing is the amount we have to allocate to ECDE centres if we have to ensure that they operate fully as expected because besides teachers, they need teaching/learning materials, improvement of infrastructure and the amount that’s allocated to the department is almost fixed,” Mr Mwakisha added.
A teacher at Wesu ECDE centre Mr Richard Mwawugha praised the county government for ensuring all teachers were employed on contract or permanent and pensionable basis while providing basic infrastructure for the learners.
Theirworld is a UK NGO – set up by Sarah Brown, the wife of the former British Prime Minister and education campaigner Gordon Brown. It educates the decision makers on the importance of supporting children for the first five years of their life as the most critical stage in a child’s development; and by investing in high-quality Early Childhood Development and Education (ECDE), countries will be providing a platform for children to thrive throughout the entirety of their education.
Theirworld 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
[GWK1]Can this be more assertive?