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Economy

Charity pushes for 10pc of annual county budgets to fund pre-primary education

child
90 percent of a child’s brain develops before the age of five years. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Counties will have to set aside at least 10 percent of their annual budget for pre-primary education if governors agree to proposals by a global charity organisation.

Theirworld says improving allocation to Early Childhood Development Education (ECDE) will help end disparities across counties and set solid foundations for learners.

An analysis by the organisation shows ECDE remains low priority in counties — despite being a devolved function — with the devolved units making little investment on teacher training and learning materials.

“We are running a pilot project in four counties with the aim of convincing the leadership in the devolved units to increase their budgetary allocation for education to at least 10 percent of their annual budgets,” said Theirworld representative Gilbert Ngaira.

The organisation has sampled ECDE budgets for the 2019/2020 financial year in Makueni, Taita Taveta, Kwale and Nairobi counties in its pilot study.

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Preliminary results show that the counties are devoting more funds to construction of ECDE structures for political mileage than what they set aside to pay teachers.

For instance, Makueni County has allocated Sh46.3 million to its ECDE development budget compared to Sh20.5 million on capitation and Sh3.5 million for facilitation of ECD officers and teachers.

A 2016 World Bank report notes that increasing access to ECDE opportunities is critical in achieving children’s development to the full potential.

Despite increased enrolment of pupils in preschool, counties have done little to tame high turnover of trained teachers due to lack of scheme of service.

“Note that 90 percent of a child’s brain develops before the age of five years … which provides an opportunity to laying the foundation in a child’s development and early learning,” said Teressa Mwoma an ECDE expert and senior lecturer at Kenyatta University.

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