For a long time, early childhood education had been relegated to the periphery. However, this seems to be changing. Michael Kisoi Munyao is one of the people who are pushing to have ECDE mainstreamed in the education sector. Michael is the son of Kenya's hero, Kisoi Munyao, who scaled Mt Kenya on the eve of independence to plant the country's flag in the summit to symbolise the country’s triumph over colonialists.
Michael has chosen a different way of participating in Kenya's development. He has chosen the path of empowerment using education, and most importantly basic education which, he says, is the foundation of one's success in getting knowledge. He has initiated a public-private partnership with the Ministry of Education to train nursery school teachers for diploma certificates on scholarship.
Trainees only pay Sh5,700 application fee and Sh3,850 for learning materials. On August 31 at Thogoto Teachers Training College, 1,040 teachers were part of the first batch to participate in an in-service training that would be taking place during holidays. “It is a three year programme in which I anticipate that 4, 800 teachers would attain diploma certificates in ECDE after attending six-holiday sessions which is equivalent to two years,” Michael said.
The teachers were trained by 40 lecturers seconded to the programme by the government. The lecturers use a curriculum developed by the Kenya Institute of Education while certification is accredited by the Kenya National Examination Council. Developing a highly skilled human capacity in early education is also part of their objective as envisioned in Vision 2030, Michael said.
Trainees at Thogoto comprised 26 head teachers, 56 deputies, 69 approved teachers, 48 senior teachers, 313 P1 teachers, 220 unemployed teachers, 100 PTA teachers, 267 ECD certificate teachers and 43 fresh ECD teachers. Michael says the programme targets teachers with a desire to upgrade their academic skills to deliver future early childhood development and education services.
Patrick Mitau, 51, is an approved teacher and a head teacher since 2005. He says the course would enable him attain a ATS3 and get into TSC's scheme of service. He also expects to teach pre-primary children. He is a head teacher at Ngutani primary school in Mwingi West. For Faustine Wamalwa, 50, a P1 deputy head teacher at Nakalila primary school in Bungoma, she needs the skills to manage ECD children.
“I will also be a diploma holder as soon as I graduate. This means I will move to the next job group,” Wamalwa said. Nicodemus Kirwa, 26, is a P1 teacher at Bishop Kogo primary school. “I would like to get the diploma and later get a degree in ECDE,” Kirwa said, adding that he would like to be an expert in this area.
Patricia Syombua, 23, a teacher at Precious Angels Academy in Murang'a urged the government to expedite mainstreaming ECD education. According to the Director of Basic Education, Leah Rotich, the problem has never been shortage of ECDE teachers, but rather the lack of mainstreaming of ECDE education.
She said in both private and public colleges, about 4,000 certificate and diploma ECDE teachers are trained every year. The country has 37,000 ECDE centres. Her deputy, Isaac Thuita, who attended the end of the training at Thogoto said at first they did not believe that a scholarship programme could work because the ministry has been looking for this type of funding.
“Whether private or public, the programme is adding value to the education sector,” Thuita said. ECDE mainstreaming was supposed to take place in 2010, but Thuita said discussions are ongoing to facilitate completion by next year. He revealed that a capitation grant for every ECD child would be factored by next month. Discussions are ongoing to also include all ECDE teachers within the TSC scheme of service, Thuita said.