There is a huge gender disparity in the composition of Early Childhood Development and Education (ECDE) teachers in Mandera, with a miniscule 1 per cent of graduates being female.
This is contained in the Mandera County Education Taskforce Report 2023 that went out to assess the quality, curriculum, and pedagogical delivery levels in 139 ECDE centres in the county.
The wide gender gap is not explained, though assumptions are that the girls are not given equal opportunity to education as boys.
The survey revealed that of all the primary respondents, mostly ECDE teachers, 73 per cent had attended college, 14 per cent reached university level, and 3 per cent only completed secondary school.
Notably, 14 per cent of ECDE centres had university graduate teachers. Among them, 70 per cent had degrees in ECDE, 10 per cent specialized in special needs education, and 20 per cent held a bachelor’s degree in education.
The underfunding of ECDE training has hindered its core functions, including teacher training, supervision, and production of teaching materials. Hence, the available teachers struggle with the new Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) due to the lack of pedagogical training.
It was also discovered that management and funding of ECDE are marred by issues. A majority of centres lack functional parents associations (61 per cent) and boards of management (57 per cent).
To complicating matters, primary school head teachers often assert control over ECDE centres despite education being a devolved function. A lack of county-designed codes of conduct and regulations for teachers only exacerbates the problem.
Concerning support from county, 43 per cent receive feedback on curriculum implementation and performance evaluation termly, while 37 per cent get it on a monthly basis. The frequency of support is mirrored in record-keeping and classroom management.
Funding is a pervasive issue. The education department receives a mere 2 per cent of the county budget, and only 2 per cent of this allocation is designated for ECDE operations.
Funds meant for ECDE development have been redirected to primary schools, a national government function, due to the teacher exodus from the county.
The teacher debacle in the county is further deepened by attitude. Youth in the region harbour negative perceptions of the teaching career, citing poor remuneration and the demanding nature of the profession.
The trickle-down effect has severely impacted ECDE in various aspects, including feeding programmes, staff recruitment, supervision, training, and learning materials.
These challenges cast a dark shadow on the future of ECDE in Mandera.
By Viola Chepkemoi
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