The State of Ownership and Management of ECDE Centers In Nairobi’s Informal Settlements

By Korir Isaac / Published May 10, 2022 | 2:59 pm




KEY POINTS

The issue of excellence and quality assurance in education should be Kenya’s primary concern. And because public schools do not enjoy a lot of public confidence at the moment, it is important to ensure that all ECDE centres provide equal opportunities for all learners.


Usawa Agenda ECDE Centres

KEY TAKEAWAYS


Among the private ECDE centres in Nairobi’s urban poor settlements, 51 percent are commercial entities, while 36 percent are not for profit, and the Nairobi County Government runs 10 percent. This kind of orientation points to the commercialization of ECDE provision in the urban informal settlements, with individuals establishing such intensities as businesses.


Early childhood development and education (ECDE) remains one of the significant ways to instil the various developmental domains and prepare learners for schooling. Over time, ECDE centres and programs have evolved to ensure the formation of a holistic foundation that promotes children’s well-being and positive experiences.

ECDE can be an essential tool for bridging potential differences associated with diverse environments to which children are exposed and promoting school readiness. The past two decades have seen the Government of Kenya implement various policies to ensure free and compulsory education for all children – including pre-primary education for all 4 to 5-year- olds.

One of the most recent policies is the Basic Education Act of 2013, which repealed the Education Act of 1980 (last revised in 2012). This Basic Education Act was formulated to help streamline education provision in institutions of basic education, in line with the 2010 Constitution. And with the increase in the number of ECDE centres, it becomes critical to determine whether these institutions can offer the quality learning that children need to progress.

Of course, the government is mandated to make provisions for equitable, quality education to marginalized, hard-to-reach, and vulnerable groups. It has developed a coherent education strategy and implementation plan that addresses the needs of marginalized, hard-to-reach, and vulnerable groups. The strategy was to ensure access, increase retention and completion rates and reduce gender disparities in education.

But since the devolvement of ECDE from the Ministry of Education to the counties, how have things changed? Usawa Agenda, on May 6, 2022, launched the ECDE Learning Assessment Report 2021, which sought to understand whole child development in informal settlements in Nairobi.

The mapping exercise reached 2072 public and private ECDE centres in Nairobi and spread across the 11 sub-counties. Among the key findings was the state of ECDE centres in Nairobi, their management, enrollment, and gender disparity. The findings were as follows:

Type and Ownership of ECDE Centers in Nairobi

From the findings, it was established that of the mapped centres, 6.9 percent were public. In comparison, 93.1 percent were non-public and owned by either the community, individuals or other entities such as faith-based organizations. Starehe has the least number of ECDE centres, as shown below:

ECDE Centres

Most of the private ECDE centres surveyed in Nairobi were individual-owned (65.6 percent), while the communities and NGOs/FBOs owned 16.7 and 17.7 percent.

ALSO READ: Usawa Agenda to Launch Report Highlighting Challenges of ECDE Learning in Nairobi’s Informal Settlements

Among the private ECDE centres in Nairobi’s urban poor settlements, 51 percent are commercial entities, while 36 percent are not for profit, and the Nairobi County Government runs 10 percent. This kind of orientation points to the commercialization of ECDE provision in the urban informal settlements, with individuals establishing such intensities as businesses.

Overall, most of the centres mapped during the exercise were located in urban informal settlements, indicating a good coverage and understanding of the major players.

Enrolment and Gender Parity Index

Private ECDE centres in informal settlements in Nairobi have better enrollment than their public counterparts. In general, these private entities have enrolments of approximately 101,597 learners. Public ECDE centres, on the other hand, had enrolments of about 18,700 learners.

Usawa Agenda, in their report, found that, on average, the class size stood at 55 learners in the private centres and 132 in the public centres. The high enrolment is attributed to a big fraction of the population being located in informal settlements characterized by increased population density.

Private and individually owned ECDE centres have the lowest average sizes in specific categories, followed by the NGO/FBO and the community ECDEs, as shown in Figure 4.2.

ECDE Centres

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

On average, the pupil-teacher ratio in public centres stands at 40, while in private ECDEs, there are  20 learners per teacher. Public ECDE centres in Njiru and Embakasi have the highest pupil-teacher ratio at 50 and 61, respectively, while it did not seem to differ by sub-county in the private centres.

Registration

Approximately 91 percent of the public ECDEs reached were registered with the Ministry of Education. Similarly, only 45 percent and 56 percent of the community and individually owned centres were registered.

These stats highly contrast the available evidence suggesting low registration of education providers in informal settlements. Previous studies have shown that only 13 percent of the low-cost private schools found in the urban informal settlements were registered with the MoE.

Management and Decision Making

Almost all public ECDE centres in Nairobi have a Board of Management (BOM) duly constituted according to the Basic Education Act 2013. Less than one-third of the private centres have a duly constituted board, and these tend to be community and NGO owned. Sadly, most of these board members do not regularly meet to discuss education matters.

The Usawa Agenda ECDE Report 2021 noted that during the assessment time, the boards of 19 percent and 5 percent of the private and public centres, respectively, had not met in the past two months when the centres were in session.

During the study, Usawa Agenda also sought to understand whether the centres had parents’ associations. Overall, 43.7 percent of the centres reported having functional parents’ associations. However, the parental association was more common in public ECDE centres (60 percent) than in private ones (42.5 percent).

In both public and private centres, decision making is seemingly consultative and jointly made by the different parties responsible for running the institutions. However, of the total private centres reached, 40 percent noted that directors make the final decision.

This is occasioned by the absence of boards of management in many of the centres since they operate as commercial entities. There is also some level of control by head teachers from the primary schools to which the centre was affiliated.

Based on the findings of the ECDE Report on ownership, enrolments, and management of ECDE centres in informal settlements, it is true to admit that they play a crucial role in providing basic opportunities for young learners.

Over the years, ECDE schools haven’t received enough attention because of various factors, including inadequate government support and poor infrastructure. This neglect has left many ECDE centres with poor quality public education, weak management of the centres, inadequate implementation of policies, and poor tracking and monitoring of this education system.

Usawa Agenda’s report highlights these challenges and advocates for change in the provision of basic opportunities for young learning. The issue of excellence and quality assurance in education should be Kenya’s primary concern. And because public schools do not enjoy a lot of public confidence at the moment, it is important to ensure that all ECDE centres provide equal opportunities for all learners.

Grab a copy of the report here to learn more about the level of learning and other patterns affecting education in Nairobi’s informal sector ECDE centres.




About Korir Isaac

A creative, tenacious, and passionate journalist with impeccable ethics and a nose for anticipated and spontaneous news. He may not say it, but he sure can make one hell of a story.

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