• Dorcas Muthoni, the county ECDE director, says they are converting teachers' terms of employment to permanent and pensionable and hiring more teachers.
• Muthoni spoke while overseeing fumigation, installation of water tanks and rehabilitation of infrastructure in ECDE centres in Kiambu.
Private ECDE centres have continued to bear the brunt of Covid-19, with many of them closing up shop ahead of reopening in January.
Many parents have expressed concern that their children's learning could be hampered when classes resume, as they will have to seek admission elsewhere.
In view of the situation, the Kiambu Early Childhood Development and Education department is putting in place measures to avert a crisis that could be caused by huge enrolment in county ECDE centres.
Dorcas Muthoni, the county ECDE director, says they are converting teachers' terms of employment to permanent and pensionable and hiring more tutors.
"There is a need to increase teachers. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, most private ECDE centres have closed permanently and we expect a high number of children to be brought to the county centres. We, therefore, see the need to balance the teacher-pupil ratio and see to it that they are remunerated well,” she said.
Muthoni spoke while overseeing fumigation, installation of water tanks and rehabilitation of infrastructure in ECDE centres in Kiambu.
Governor James Nyoro said he is committed to ensuring all children have access to early development and education. He has ensured that the centres are rehabilitated and new ones built in readiness for the anticipated surge in admission.
Nyoro said his administration is upgrading classrooms by painting child-friendly colours, having playfields, rehabilitating and constructing toilets and having in place a feeding programme to keep children in the centres. Also considered are adequate modern teaching and learning materials to guarantee equity and inclusion of learners with special needs.
“We have prioritised recruitment of more ECDE teachers, increased access to ECDE, provided an environment conducive to learning and we are finalising the county ECDE Bill for better management of the centres—both private and public,” Nyoro said.
Plans are underway to have a model ECDE centre in each of the 60 wards. They will have digital platforms to expose children to ICT at a tender age.
On social distancing and other efforts to contain Covid-19, the governor said classes will be split and in some instances, well-structured shades and tents will be provided to accommodate the excess enrolment even as plans to construct more classrooms are put in place.
Muthoni said the county has 513 ECDE centres with a population of 35,000 children and 1,231 teachers.
“In the ECDE centres, teachers and parents will actively be engaged in the safety of children and identifying child abuse and molestation cases so we initiate ways to handle them,” she said.
The department will conduct baseline surveys to identify the needs of the centres so they can comply with public health regulations set by the Ministry of Health. There are concerns about the disposal of facemasks by the public as children are tempted to use them as play items without knowing the risks.
The department is hoping the county assembly will approve budgetary allocation to ensure quality learning, the safety of pupils and compliance with Covid-19 regulations in line with the huge number expected in the facilities.
Muthoni said they are keen to give teachers and parents tips on the "new normal" so they have a positive attitude towards the changes.
The Ministry of Education and the Council of Governors are also expected to come up with a well-suited framework on allocating funds to ECDE to ensure children gain quality education by gaining the right skills at a formative stage.