Early Childhood Development is key for maximum child growth

By Ann Wambui

Every investment in children is for the resent and future benefit of generations and nations,” Professor & Founding Director, Institute for Human Development, Aga Khan University, Professor Kofi Margo.

The early years of a child since birth are crucial as they grow into a society full of different kinds of people with different characters, while their brain registers the little things in the environment and expected to be fully developed by the age of 5.

Nairobi County government announced the scrapping off fees for at least 13,000 learners in public school enrolled in ECD education in June 2018. The Shs52.8million capitation fund will be distributed among the 2,015 public pre-primary schools in the city, meaning each pupil will be allocated Shs3,815 to cater for learning materials and meals.

“I have directed that all levies and fees in all the 2,015 public Early Childhood Development Education (EDCE) centers in Nairobi be scrapped with immediate effect.” Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko

The 2nd National Early Childhood Development (ECD) Stakeholders conference held at Kenyatta University (Business Student Service Center) started on the July 25 and will end today as the stakeholders hold their last session and exhibition of what different organizations are doing in developing early childhood practices.

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With a vision to have a society where all children of the ages between 0-8 years realize a holistic early childhood development for lifelong success, the Early Childhood Development Network for Kenya has coordinated with organizations and institutions engaging in ECD service provision, capacity development, research and advocacy in Kenya.

We have had an opportunity to roll out the care for child development and have worked collaboratively with the government and other partners to ensure that the package is in the hands of practitioners through health care systems in Kenya.”  Africa Early Childhood Network, Elizabeth Gitonga,

The Ministry of Health through Head of Neonatal, Child & Adolescent Health Unit Dr. Osman Warfa announced that United Nations International Children Emergency Fund in support in developing an integrated ECD policy.

This goes along with the immunization program for children reaching a 90% mark in 2014 and experiencing decreased services in 2016/17 due to the doctors and nurses strike that reduced this percentage to 78%. This could only mean that more children were left not immunized during this period.

During the conference, challenges facing institutions that provide training for caregivers to ensure that quality development is given to children were raised and these include school safety in the preschools in urban informal settlements.

Despite the government endeavor to establish guidelines and minimum standards through policies in preschools, poor infrastructure and congested classrooms are still major setbacks in providing quality education and development for children. This could be solved through establishing more preschool centers with enough and correct facilities to provide condusive learning environment.

Before county government came to place, ECD teachers in Isiolo County received a salary between Shs50,000-60,000 and after the county government came into operation that figure was automatically reduced which led to a drop in quality service provision for children.” Hon Dr. Mohammed Guleid

This move pushed ECD teachers quit providing services which led children stay home more so because most families are pastoralists and this implicates children missing out on childhood development.

Children between 0-3 years not only need just teachers but caregivers who understand how toddler’s minds can operate at such a fragile age for example Madrasa Early Childhood Program that provides training caregivers to attend to children in the proper manners to grow.

 

Learners in ECD centers are provided with meals everyday they are in school to ensure that no child learns or plays on an empty stomach. In this centers, pupils go through pure play, habits development and hygiene.

Major challenge in these education centers is usually meals provision although some counties like Mombasa and Kiambu are providing milk and toast to their learners in ECDE centers.

It takes collaborative efforts to making sure that each child gets adequate services especially in health so that education becomes easy to tackle. Education and health organizations must work towards having long-term partnerships in helping each child have a successful childhood.

Article 53 of constitution of Kenya guarantees a child’s best interest as paramount of the country. A shared responsibility between the national and county government and thus campaigning for counties to work with partners with potential private organizations in early childhood programs, to enhance scaleable band cost effective model of ECD programs.

Early Childhood Development Network Kenya was established since the realization of a gap in coordination of organizations and institutions involved in Early Childhood Development services provision, capacity development, research and advocacy in the country.

 

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