Early Childhood Development Education (ECDE) has been given a boost after Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui presented 305 ECDE teachers, with their appointment letters as permanent and pensionable workers.
The new recruits join another 372 who were hired earlier this year and deployed to public ECDE centres across the 11 Sub-Counties in Nakuru.
Speaking at the County headquarters in Nakuru town when he presided over a ceremony to give out the letters to the teachers, Kinyanjui said his administration was targeting to post at least two ECDE teachers in each of the public primary schools in the county.
He indicated that all ECDE teachers absorbed by the devolved unit are set to benefit from a new scheme of service developed by the Department of Education together with the County Public Service Board, the Ministry of Public Service, the Public Service Commission, and the Teachers Service Commission.
“We want to have a new beginning with the fact that ECDE has been included in the new curriculum. That is why we want to employ the teachers on better terms. It will give them morale to work,” he added.
Kinyanjui noted that the new terms of service provide better remuneration for the ECDE teachers, who have been underpaid for a long time and also provides for a clear career progression path.
The governor encouraged the teachers to advance their academic qualifications, since the new scheme has room for promotion.
Initially, parents had been shouldering the burden of paying ECDE teachers, who were employed on contract.
At the inception of devolution, the national government handed over the management of the pre-primary institutions to county governments.
Kinyanjui observed that shortage of public ECDE centres has given rise to private nursery schools, locking out children from poor backgrounds, whose families cannot afford the fees charged at the private institutions.
The governor regretted that education standards in some parts of the county had been dwindling due to the lack of access to basic early childhood education, saying equipping the centres and employing more teachers will help solve the problem.
“The ECDE lays the foundation stone of education and if we do not support it, it will definitely affect the school examination and primary and secondary level. ECDE is a crucial stage of human development and my administration has been giving it the attention it deserves. Children joining school need a conducive learning environment,” noted Kinyanjui.
He stated that in the past four years the County Government had built 305 new ECDE classrooms, renovated old ones in all sub-counties and furnished 708 ECDE classrooms with age-appropriate 17,000 chairs and 2,833 tables.
It also emerged that Governor Kinyanjui’s administration seeks to establish a programme to ensure the children are well fed to boost enrolment in the centres.
We will introduce ECDE centres’ feeding programme to ensure pupils get nutritious meals, clean water, child-friendly toilets and hand washing facilities. Our target is to ensure that all pupils in ECDEs across the county are sitting comfortably in their classrooms and to also increase enrolment, he added.
The governor said this was among his pre-election pledges, adding that the feeding programme will be scaled up to include porridge that has more nutrients necessary for growth.
“Survey has shown that our continued investment in the ECDE sector has resulted in an increase in enrolment in our centres as some parents who would previously enroll their children in private centres are now settling for public ones,” he said.
“If you recall, education was one of the key pillars in my manifesto. I pledge to improve and modernize our ECDEs as a way of boosting our early education. I also promised to look at the critical component of human resources,” said the governor.
By Anne Mwale