Early childhood, from birth to age five, is the most critical developmental stage in a child’s life. By their fifth birthday, a child’s brain is 90% developed: good nutrition, healthcare, protection, play and early learning at this crucial stage are what set children on the path to the best future possible.
To allow the brain to grow and the child to develop to their full potential, children need quality nurturing care — including play, health, protection, nutrition and early learning. It is in these early years that the foundations for success at school and in later life will be in place.
A child’s most important steps happen before they set foot in a primary school. Early childhood interventions should support four key developmental domains — physical, cognitive, linguistic and socio-emotional development. Today, the vital need to support children’s development during their early years is widely recognised, however, while progress is being made in some areas, children’s early learning is too often neglected, putting millions of children at a disadvantage before they even start school.
Early childhood development (ECD) has been a core part of Theirworld’s work for many years and over the last two years we have focused our research and advocacy on the prioritisation and investment in on early childhood education (ECE).
As part of the global #WriteTheWrong campaign, Theirworld is committed to unlocking large- scale political will and financing for early childhood education, to impact the lives of the most marginalized and vulnerable children, including children with disabilities, children impacted crisis, conflict and emergencies and children impacted by AIDs and HIV.
Early Childhood Education in Kenya
The Kenyan Government has made a strategic commitment to expand access to pre-primary school to all children aged 4 to 5 as part of a broader Early Childhood Development Education (ECDE) strategy. Children enrolled in one year of pre-primary education are more likely to develop the skills they need to succeed in school and less likely to drop out. As the Kenyan Government also recognises integrated services based at ECDE learning centres they also provide invaluable opportunities for the provision of specific health and nutrition interventions such as vaccinations, deworming, and vitamin supplementation.
Theirworld’s work in Kenya is focused on supporting high quality, accessible ECDE, placing a particular emphasis on the needs of the most marginalised children, especially those affected by HIV/AIDS.
Theirworld have established a Kenya Advisory group, to advise Theirworld on determining how a domestic campaign focusing on county-level interventions could reinforce and elevate local campaign efforts and contribute to the global targets for early childhood education.
The campaign seeks to:
- Ensure that 10% of education spending at the County level is invested in ECDE.
- Ensure that investment focuses on high-quality ECDE provision.
- Ensure that investment in high-quality provision prioritises the needs of children affected by HIV/AIDs and other marginalised groups.