Nairobi, Kenya – On October 19th, 2016, Kidogo, alongside 10 partner organizations, launched the Kenya Early Childhood Development Network.
Early childhood (0-8 years) is the most rapid period of development in a human life, serving as the most important years for survival, growth and development. It is within these years that a child develops the building blocks for cognitive, social, moral and emotional development. Equally, a child is most vulnerable to the risks of malnutrition, toxic stress and lack of stimulation, which negatively affects brain architecture and compromises learning and performance in later years.
In Kenya, only 53.3% of 4-5 years olds are enrolled in pre-school services, though this number is as low as 5% in areas such as Garissa, Wajir and Mandera. There are limited quality childcare options for children below age 3. For low-income families with young children, mothers must often choose between finding employment to provide for their families, and sending their children to school. Limited childcare services, therefore, serve as a barrier to improving familial livelihoods, which propagates the cycle of poverty, disproportionately impacting women.
Kenya’s constitution, under Article 53, guarantees the right of the child to free and compulsory basic education, nutrition, shelter, health care and protection. The National government has developed robust Early Childhood policy frameworks; service delivery, however, falls under the jurisdiction of each of Kenya’s 43 County governments. To date, gaps in coordination and financing have hindered the successful implementation of high-quality, affordable Early Childhood programming across the country.
The Early Childhood Development Network for Kenya was formed out of the realization that there was a gap in the coordination of various organizations and institutions engaged in Early Childhood Development service provision, capacity development, research and advocacy in Kenya.
The Network works with National and County governments, organizations, parents and community members to ensure that children are able to access and participate in high-quality, holistic early childhood development programs.
Specifically, the Network seeks to:
Promote equitable access to quality Early Childhood Development services in Kenya for all children
- Develop an enabling environment that encourages local research in Early Childhood Development
- Strengthen Early Childhood Development stakeholders’ collaboration and coordination
- Influence financial resource allocation and utilization towards Early Childhood Development programs in Kenya
“The launch of the Early Childhood Development Network for Kenya is a great achievement,” said Darius Ogutu, Director of Policy and Partnerships at the Ministry of Education. “Ensuring a child’s best interest is catered for is the shared responsibility between the national government, county government, NGOs, private sector and citizens.”
The founding members of the Network are (in alphabetical order): Aga Khan Foundation East Africa, Build Africa, International Child Resource Institute, KANCO, Kenyatta University, Kidogo, Little Rock, Parenting in Africa Network, Research Triangle Institute, Save the Children, and World Vision Kenya. The Early Childhood Development Network for Kenya is an affiliate of the Africa Early Childhood Development Network and receives technical assistance from UNICEF Kenya.
The Network is open to non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, learning institutions and research institutions that focus on Early Childhood Development in Kenya.
For more information and to sign up to be a member of the Network, please visit: www.ecdnetworkforkenya.org
Compiled from: Early Childhood Development Network for Kenya Concept Paper