, NAIROBI, Mar 20 – The Kenyan government has said plans are at an advanced stage to have Early Childhood Development (ECD) education mainstreamed into the primary cycle.
Kenyan’s education minister Sam Ongeri said the programme, which was to be mainstreamed last year, was hampered by lack of resources but notes that its proposals have been made to the Treasury, to have it incorporated in the next fiscal budget.
However, Ongeri said the government has been providing substantial grants to ECD centres countrywide, which has assisted in upgrading the centres to competent institutions
Over 20,000 teachers will be employed this year for nursery schools.
“The proposal to have funds for mainstreaming ECD centres in the next budget is already on the table. We are ready to get down to business once we receive the funds,” Ongeri told Xinhua.
With the mainstreaming, Ongeri said it will now be easy to monitor the centres, where children will be joining from the age of four, adding that there will also be a comfortable transition from the centres to Standard One.
The minister added that the Kenyan Constitution clearly spells out that the ECDs will be a function of county governments and once operational, they will be managed at the county level.
“All we are going to do is to move the ECDs to the county levels and direct that part of their budget goes to the centres. ECD centres are critical in shaping the life of children.”
Ongeri also expressed optimism that the 2015 Education For All (EFA) deadline will be achieved, given the transition rates from Primary to Secondary Schools, which currently stands at 74 percent.
He says Kenya is one of the countries in Africa that have made remarkable progress towards achieving the EFA goals.
To cover the remaining 26 percent, Ongeri said the ministry will come up with policies to ensure all children are incorporated into the learning system. The government wants to ensure all boys and girls are able to complete a full course of primary schooling by 2015.
Similar efforts by the Ministry of Education to make Early Childhood Development Education part of the primary school system flopped in 2010 due to financial constraints.
To increase access to quality primary education, the ministry had planned to integrate more than 2.5 million children aged between four and five years into the primary school cycle.
For many years now, the ministry, through the Directorate of Basic Education, has been grappling with the challenge of making the early education segment part of the primary education cycle.
Government commitment to the sub-sector is articulated in the National Development Plans and the Sessional Papers No 6 of 1988 and No1 of 2005.
These statutory documents provide a broad policy framework for the provision of ECDE. Further, ECDE is one of the 23 investment programmes being implemented by the Ministry of Education under the Kenya Education Sector Support Programme (KESSP) running from July 2005 to 2010.
Also, under Vision 2030, the country is committed to providing a globally competitive and quality education, training and research. Among the strategies towards achieving this goal is integrating early childhood education into primary education.
The plan will also see underprivileged parents take their children to school at the right time. Due to financial problems, some parents especially in rural areas enrol children to nursery schools when they are past the age of four.