10.3 Explain the factors affecting implementation of early childhood education curriculum in Kenya.
Factors Affecting Implementation of Early Childhood Education Curriculum in Kenya
ECDE curriculum implementation faces a number of challenges. These challenges include the following:
1. Emerging Issues
As we have discussed earlier, we live in a changing society. There are many societal challenges that affect ECDE curriculum implementation in Kenya today. The emerging issues that affect the ECD curriculum in Kenya include:
a) Free Primary Education
After 2003 general election, a number of key reforms in the education sector were undertaken. Key among them was the re-introduction of the free primary education. This policy shift brought some benefit to the primary education through increased enrolment. However, surveys later pointed out that big enrolment had some negative impact on ECDE curriculum implementation such as:
- Reduced enrolment rate in ECDE centres.
- Increase in attrition rate of ECDE teachers due to poor payment.
- ECDE classrooms were taken over by primary school pupils
- Preschool children were pushed to learn under trees and sit on stones
- Inadequate supervision of ECDE curriculum implementation as quality assurance and standard officers are overwhelmed by the primary education supervision activities.
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) one of the leading killer diseases in the world today is caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). It was reported that by 2001, 1.5 million Kenyans died of AIDS with 1.7 million children being orphaned. This figure is expected to rise by 2010 (KESSP, 2005). This disaster has an impact on the implementation of ECDE curriculum in many ways. These include:
- When sick parents die, orphans eventually drop out of school.
- ECDE teachers are affected or infected by HIV/AIDS.
- Prolonged absenteeism and poor involvement in the curriculum implementation by sick teachers.
- Pre-school teachers are deployed to primary sections to offset the shortage.
- Poor attention of ECDE children.
- The scourge negatively affects people economically. Thus, leads to reduced participation of community members in education matters.
c) Gender issues
Gender refers to social roles that are associated with males or females. The issue of gender in education and development is an emerging issue in the society today. In 2003, the Ministry of Education developed a gender policy framework. The policy pinpoints key gender issues that needs to be looked into such as enrolment, retention, transition rate, negative social cultural practices which inhibit girls’ access to education, conducive learning environment and stereotyping materials. These issues also impact on the implementation of the ECDE curricula in many ways. Most ECDE teachers are females and therefore children do not get the opportunity to be taught by both male and female. Matters of gender include:
- Most ECDE teachers are females.
- There is low participation of male parents in ECDE curriculum implementation due to men negative attitude towards ECDE.
- In some cultures, there is a poor enrolment of girls as they are made to attend domestic chores or even marry early.
- In nomadic communities, enrolment of boys in ECDE centres is low because they are made to tend after the flock.
d) Insecurity and Political Instability
After the introduction of multi-party democracy in Kenya in 1992, some of the political parties that were formed have had tribal inclinations. At times, politicians use them to settle personal scores. They create fear among different groups of people as they rally their clan members, group or tribe to their side. This has led to tribal-cum-political clashes in various parts of the country. In 2008, post-election violence reports showed that women and children were the most affected. In some North Rift areas like the Pokot, Samburu, Turkana, Trans Nzoia and Isiolo in Eastern Province where cattle rustling is prevalent, insecurity is a constant problem. Insecurity and political instability have direct and indirect influences on the implementation of the ECDE curriculum in Kenya.
e) Drought and famine
Drought which is a natural phenomenon is associated with human activities such as de-forestation. Due to drought, farmers experience crop failure, thus leading to famine. The most vulnerable members of the society are women and children. This affects curriculum implementation in the following ways:
- Reduced enrolment of ECDE children
- High attrition rate of ECDE teachers.
- Reduced participation and attendance rate of children
- Reduced community involvement in ECDE programmes
- Inadequate provision of curriculum support materials.
2) Government Policy
Various government policies influence implementation of the ECDE curriculum. These policies include:
i) Language Policy
The National Committee on Educational Objectives and Policies (the Gachathi Commission, 1976) recommended that the language of instruction for lower primary classes be the language of the catchment area. This policy was implemented by developing the language policy. The ECDE language policy guidelines were formulated in line with the language policy that children in pre-schools should be taught using the language used in the catchments area. Most centres prefer English and Kiswahili as the languages of instruction and some especially in rural areas use mother tongue.
ii) Sessional paper No. 6 of 1988
Based on the recommendations of the Presidential Working Party on Education and Manpower Training in the Next Decade and Beyond (The Kamunge Commission Report of 1988), the government of Kenya prepared a policy paper “The sessional paper No. 6 of 1988.” The policy affected the implementation of the ECDE curriculum in the following ways:
- Local authorities, communities, parents and private organizations were encouraged to start more ECDE centres.
- Zonal inspectors were trained to guide and supervise ECDE centres.
- Researches on the development of teaching and learning materials were undertaken.
iii) Sessional Paper No 10 of 2005, “A Policy for Education, Research and Training”
This paper document provides a broad policy framework for the provision of ECDE. The document, outlines policy measures for free basic education for 14 years in phases, these are:
- Phase 1: Free primary education for eight years (started in January 2003)
- Phase 2: Free secondary education tuition for four years (beginning January, 2008).
- Phase 3: Integration of two years of ECDE education (4-5 years) into the free primary education by 2010.
In the ECDE sub-sector, the government, through the policy, committed herself to:
- Developing a comprehensive national ECDE policy framework
- Working out modalities to mainstream ECDE as part of basic education by 2010
- Intensifying capacity building and resource mobilization with stakeholders in management of ECDE facilities and development and implementation of ECDE programmes for vulnerable children and those with special needs.
3) Rural -Urban Migration
Rural-urban migration refers to the movement of people and families from rural areas to urban areas. Although this human movement provides ready and cheap labour to the industries in affected towns, it has some lasting effects on the social, political, economic and educational sectors of a country. Rural-urban migration has the following effects on ECDE curriculum implementation:
- Reduction of enrolment and attendance rate of children in the ECDE centres in the rural areas as the energetic youth and parents move out.
- It affects ECDE curriculum implementation as it results in poor remuneration of curriculum implementers (teachers) and low community participation in ECDE programmes like the building of classrooms.
- The influx of families and their children into towns increases the enrolment rate in the ECDE centres. The huge numbers cannot be catered for by the few available trained ECDE teachers.
- Trained ECDE teachers may also move from the rural areas to urban areas in search of better employment opportunities. This leaves rural ECDE centres under the care of untrained personnel to teach young children.
- As a result of the better pay packages associated with towns, some DICECE officers and Quality Assurance and Standard Officers (QASOs) move from rural areas to towns. This compromises ECDE curriculum supervision in the rural areas.
4) Socio-Economic Issues
There are a number of socio-economic issues which affect ECDE curriculum implementation. These include:
- The economic growth rate of the country,
- Recession and inflation,
- The cost of implementing the ECDE curriculum,
- Structural adjustment programmes (SAPs),
- Liberalisation and economic integrations.
A steady economy ensures that the government and the private sector invest in the provision of Early Childhood Development and Education by building more classes and learning centres, providing curriculum support materials and improving the terms and conditions of service for ECDE teachers.
When a country experiences an economic slowdown or recession, the cost of food and other necessities goes up. The government and families use a lot of resources in buying food and other basic commodities. This leaves other social programmes like ECDE curriculum implementation without the much needed support. This may lead to poor remuneration of ECDE teachers and lack of ECDE curriculum support materials.
Liberalisation of the markets and economic integration affect ECDE curriculum implementation in many ways. The integration of East African countries (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda) is expected to influence ECDE in many ways. It may lead to adoption of a uniform educational system for these countries. ECDE teacher trainees cross the borders in search of education will become more easy and thus, impacting positively on the implementation of ECDE curriculum as more curriculum implementers such as teachers, DICECE officers and supervisors get more opportunities to acquire more knowledge and higher skills needed for effective implementation of the ECDE curriculum. The increasing demand for quality ECDE services by parents has brought a lot of competition among ECDE centres.