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Best and worst of ECD as numbers in enrollment rise

By , People Daily Digital
Friday, October 22nd, 2021 00:00 | 3 mins read
ECD pupils playing at 91-Municipality Primary School in Nyahururu town. Photo/File

A majority of counties registered a rise in enrolment to pre-primary education between 2014 and 2019, a new survey has revealed.

Kenya Counties ECD Profile report indicates that Gross Enrolment Rate (GER) in the Early Childhood Development centres increased from 73.6 per cent in 2014 to 109.4 per cent in 2019.

For instance, the report shows that enrolment rates in Siaya county increased from 73.5 in 2014 to 190.7 per cent in 2019.

The survey reveals that Bomet, Kakamega, Machakos, Makueni, Meru, Busia, Nyamira, Turkana and Murang’a are among counties topping in pupil enrollment while Wajir, Baringo, Mandera, Elgeyo Marakwet and Kajiado counties have the lowest enrolment rates.

Wajir county, according to the survey, registered minimal improvement from 25.6 per cent to 36.7 per cent over the same period.

On the other hand, Mombasa, Nairobi and Narok registered a decline in enrolment rates of 18.06 per cent, 36.98 per cent and 11.83 per cent respectively between 2014 and 2019. “Data on access to pre-primary education shows tremendous progress over the years, this is manifested in the increased GER, with an improvement of 35.8 per cent points,” reads the report.

The survey, however, established that despite impressive performance in national enrolment rates, provision of pre-primary education in the country is marked by equity and quality challenges.

On availability of ECD teachers, the report  indicate that the education sub-sector was being weighed down by high child-teacher ratios.

According to the report, the Child-Teacher Ratio has been increasing over the years from a national average of approximately 25.1 in 2014 to 29.1 and 30.1 in 2016 and 2019 respectively. The situation is replicated across the country with Turkana county registering the highest CTR of approximately 161.1.

Kilifi and Machakos counties topped with the number of ECD teachers between 2014 and 2019. On the other hand, Isiolo, Lamu, Marsabit, Mandera, Tana River and Wajir counties were listed to have the least number of ECD teachers.

Similarly, the report established that access to quality ECD services in Kenya is hampered by high child-teacher ratios.

“Availability of trained teachers is a critical component of the quality Early Childhood education system. Reviewed data shows that although Kenya has a good pool of ECD teachers currently standing nationally, the figure continues to reduce from 114,831 in 2014 to 92,359 in 2019, a reduction of 22,472 teachers. This may indicate high attrition rates of ECD teachers in the country,” the report.

The survey pointed out gaps in the teacher levels across the country.

Highest drop

In the report, Migori, Nairobi, Nakuru, Kisii, Kakamega, Kiambu and Bungoma counties recorded the highest drop in the number of ECD teachers in the same period. 

“The trend is similar across the country with only 13 out of 47 counties registering minimal improvement in teacher levels between 2014 and 2019,” the report continued.

Further, the report indicates that large class sizes also pose a challenge to the delivery of quality ECDE services in Kenya.

Although the number of ECDE centres class sizes increased from 40,211 in 2014 to 46,530 in 2019, the average class size of an ECDE centre in Kenya remains unacceptably large at 59 in 2019 from 75 in 2014. The scenario is replicated through analysis carried out across the 47 counties with Kakamega’s average class size increasing by 299 per cent from 83 in 2014 to 248 in 2019.

The report shows that Turkana, Samburu and Garissa counties significantly reduced class sizes in their ECDE centres between 2014 and 2019. “For example, Turkana reduced the class size by half from 240 in 2014 to 122 in 2019, though the figure remains extremely high,” the report.

It indicates that Embu, Kirinyaga, Kitui, Makueni, Muranga, Nyandarua, Taita Taveta and Tharaka Nithi counties had the least ECDE centre class sizes.

On ECD learners population, the report distribution of children under five years varies across the counties, with Nairobi and Kiambu leading with 614,901 and 327,181 children respectively.

It was established that the under-fives population analysed against overall county population is higher in West Pokot and Mandera counties at 22 per cent each, but lowest in Kirinyaga (11 per cent), Embu (12 per cent), Nyeri (12 per cent) Tharaka Nithi (12 per cent) and Makueni (12 per cent).

According to the report, Kenya has a youthful population with 75.1 per cent (35.7 million) aged below 35 years. Out of this approximately 7.2 million are children below five years, representing 15 per cent of the population.

To enhance the quality of ECD in the country, the study report recommended for strengthening of the capacity of national and county institutions in costing and financing of ECD services including reporting of expenditure by sub-programmes, an annual publishing of state of Early childhood development report showing progress across various indicators at national, county, sub-county and ward levels and the institution of mechanisms to scale up measures and reporting of children’s learning and development outcomes.