Education is power to development and key to success. “Is the education system and its institutions and programmes fit for purpose?’’
This question will remain relevant as long as the performance of students in the national examinations remains below average even with continued government funding.
The government supports the education sector through free primary education and subsidised secondary education leaving Early Childhood Development Education to parents. This has given poor children a chance to go to primary school for basic education.
Early Childhood Development Education is the backbone of education to a child. Despite the growing importance of Early Childhood Education, there are number of challenges that have continued to pull down its effective implementation.
- Inadequate teaching and learning resources – Many ECDE centers lack adequate teaching and learning resource and facilities suitable for ECDE in their learning environment. These include lack of properly ventilated classrooms, furniture suitable for children, kitchen, safe clean water, play ground, toilets and play material. This implies that teachers do not have adequate teaching and learning resources to enable them to implement ECDE Curriculum effectively. This affects implementation of ECDE Curriculum negatively as creation of a sustainable learning environment helps deprived children to improve their academic performance
- Socio-economic factor – Malnutrition and ill-health are factors associated with the socio-economic factor. These factors can significantly damage the cognitive processing ability of children. Children whose processing capacity is impacted by ill-health and malnutrition may require more hours of instruction to learn various skills.
- High teacher /child ratio with poor remunerations – Teacher child ratio has been a subject of much attention among researchers in relation to the factors facing teaching and learning process. Early childhood development education has not been left out. Research shows that teacher child ratio has continued to grow. On average, teacher child ratio for both 3-5 years old children and 6-8 years olds still remains critical. Teachers are not comfortable with the increasing number of children in their classes they handle (Dodge & Colker, 1992). Still with this high ratios, ECDE teachers are poorly remunerated and under the mercy of parents (most of whom have little or nothing to give).
- Financial constraint – Financial constraints can lead to ineffective implementation of early childhood education. At macro level, Kenya has suffered from the heavy debt burden following its pursuit on the World Bank and International Monetary Fund fiscal policies such as the Structural Adjustment Programs. It is reported that these debt-servicing programs is partly responsible for significant reduction in government funding for subsidized education, health care and school related expenses. The result has been that families bear more responsibilities in implementation of early childhood education programmes.
In Kisumu County for instance, teacher to pupil ration is 1:24. with 997 ECD centres and 1958 teacher. The gross enrolment rates in primary schools have been sustained to above 100 per cent, while the net enrolment rates has risen to almost 90 per cent in the recent past. The number of children completing Class 8 has risen to over 800,000. However, the 2012 Economic Survey shows that approximately 30 per cent of primary school pupils fail to transit to secondary schools because secondary schooling as part of basic education is yet to be actualised. Its implementation would mean automatic progression.
This affects transition. About 250,000 Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exam candidates miss secondary school slots annually. Yet, the Kenya Vision 2030 is looking upon the education sector to deliver the necessary skills and build adequate human capital to achieve and sustain the country as a middle-income country. The 70 per cent who proceed to secondary education fail massively. On average, 60 per cent (approximately 200,000 students) of those sitting the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations end up scoring below 49 per cent ( C-). This reduces their chance of getting a vacancy in higher education.
From the KCPE dropouts and KCSE failures, it implies that about 450,000 unemployable children drop out of the school system. Research from the Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (Kippra) shows that the survival rate from Class One to Form Four is below 20 per cent, while those who survive from Class One to university is 1.69 per cent.
This means few children attain tertiary education where skills are developed, despite the huge resources spent on education. This is backed by the fact that the average years of schooling in Kenya is currently 8.4 years, a very limited time to enable a child acquire adequate skills for economic growth and development. Thus, a significant number of Kenyans have skill deficit because eight years of education is inadequate. While the gains made in the education system have increased transition rates, the KCSE scores paint a grim picture. The system has been overly academic, with emphasis on examinations rather than skills development.
We assist vulnerable children to access quality education and attaining functional levels of literacy and essential life skills. When children can read, they can provide to their families and fight for their rights.
CINCO therefore works with parents, families, teachers and community to achieve this objective