Education is a critical component to breaking the cycle of extreme poverty. Children in the Samburu district of Kenya lack a solid early education foundation, which negatively affects their primary and secondary education. CHOICE Kenya, with the community, has determined that academic performance will improve as a result of increasing the quantity and quality of early education development centers (ECD) for children between the ages of 3 to 6 years old.
The Kenyan Government leaves the management of the ECD centers to the county government. However, this is a large burden for counties to carry alone, so the partnership with CHOICE Kenya has been much appreciated.
In 2016, the goal for CHOICE Kenya and the Community Based Organization (local community council) was to provide the ECD management team and parents with the tools to improve the quality of education in the ECD centers and to provide more effective management of the centers to improve the future performance of children in schools. The trainings for two schools focused on the importance of early childhood development in education, parents’ involvement and participation in ECD center management, effective management of ECD Centers, and school development planning.
With the combined efforts of CHOICE Kenya, the parents, teachers, and the ECD management, things are looking better for everyone.
Before the training:
The two schools had ECD Centers that were encountering the same problems:
- Lack of school teaching aids and learning materials.
- Poor financial support due to parents lacking information on the importance of early childhood development.
- Low enrollment of children in ECD centers leading to the majority of children not going to school.
- No food program in the school.
- Teachers not being paid.
- Poor performance in schools due to lack of quality ECD education.
- Low turn out at parents meeting where they discuss issues affecting education welfare of their children.
- Underperforming School Management Committees which has led to poor management of the centers.
- The disproportionately high level of high school dropouts due to the poor educational foundation.
- Poor quality of ECD facilities.
- Negative attitudes towards education due to poor facilities at the foundation level.
After the training:
When parents realized that their involvement was critical to the education of their children, they began to contribute to a fund to purchase materials to make teachings aids one day a week they help develop teaching aids with the teachers.
During the training, the parents and the committee planned to repair the ECD classroom floor, and make table and chairs as children were sitting on a cement floor that had several holes. This step alone has led to an average increase in attendance of 8%.
Collective responsibility between parents, community leaders, and the early childhood development centers in this area are the key. CHOICE Kenya is building the capacity of the ECD management committees and the community to understand their role and to identify the resources needed for promoting both quality education and children’s access to early childhood development education. Empowering the community through training on the benefits of education, beginning with a strong foundation has proven to be a sustainable approach.