TRENDS IN EARLY CHILDHOOD AND PRIMARY SCHOOL EDUCATION IN THE WORLD, AFRICA AND PARTICULARLY IN KENYA Course description History of Early childhood and primary school education from the ancient Greco-Roman times to the present times. The Renaissance period in Europe; The Industrial period in Europe; The Education in Traditional African set up; The History of Early childhood in colonial time. Childhood and Primary School Education in Independent Kenya Early Childhood Education in Old Greece. Generally, education and schooling can be traced to about 500 BC in old Greece.
Old Greece as the pioneer of civilization had many city states.
But prominent amongst these were Athens and Sparta. History reveals that early training of the Spartan Child was not only done at home with the mother of the child as teacher, but infant education was a state concern. This is in the sense that at infancy, the child was carefully examined by local elders to see if his physical and psychological posture would suit the aim of this predominantly militaristic state.
Where the child was found physically weak he was immediately got rid of. The implication is that among the Spartans, only healthy children were raised to become citizens.
The Athenians may not have paid particular attention to early childhood education in the beginning, but history tells us that with the coming of Athenian Philosophers like Plato and Aristotle, recognition was given to the need for early childhood education from birth till about age seven. This period, (birth to 7years) in their view should actually be devoted as the first stage of “proper” elementary schooling. Early Childhood Education in Old Roman Empire. The Old Roman Empire came into being shortly after the collapse of Old Greece. Having conquered Greece, the Romans adopted the Greek system of education.
Before then, education for the Roman child was mostly a home affair. Right from birth, the father of the newborn child actually determined his survival. – The newborn child was laid at his father’s feet. If the father lifted him that meant that he acknowledged and accepted responsibility for him. But if the father turned away, the reverse was a death penalty for the child. This also meant that before the influence of the Greeks, the Romans never had a set standard on formal schooling for the young child. Their idea of preschool education was learning the father’s trade.
The mother on the other hand took care of the child’s moral training. The influence of Greek education brought about a new experience in the Roman ideal for education. This new Graeco-Roman educational system introduced the Ludus or elementary education amongst other stages of learning. The Ludus was the first stage of learning which took care of preschool education all through to elementary school. Specifically the Ludus preschool curriculum content had Reading, Writing and Arithmetic, using the play method. Generally in the matter of early childhood education in the old Roman Empire, one cannot underestimate the contributions of Quintilian.
He was an education theorist of Roman parentage. He took cognisance of the child as a learner who needed the right type of education. Quintilian has so much concern for the child, and parental responsibility towards his normal and effective growth. He advocated early childhood education contrary to the Roman entry school age of seven years. His emphasis on early childhood education centres on the argument that the elements of learning solely depends on memory. This also exists in young children, especially in their formative years of between zero to seven years.
Generally Quintilian’s contribution to early childhood educational theory and practice was quite significant to educational development in the old Roman Empire. Early Childhood Education in the Renaissance Period. AD 1300-1600 Unlike the Middle Ages, the Renaissance period witnessed the birth of new ideas and knowledge of ancient Greek learning. A historical analysis of this period reveals that there were some notable scholars who contributed immensely to educational world view. Such scholars include Vittorrino da Feltre (1378 – 1446), Desdirus Erasmus, (1446 – 1536), Juan Luis Vives (1495 – 1553).
All of them worked on a theory of early childhood education. Vittorrino da Feltre developed his idea of early childhood education along the line of Quintilian. He named his school for preschoolers, “The House of Joy”. In Erasmus’ theory and Practice of education, he recommended that education should begin with the first stage or pre-school stage. His belief for such recommendation is that at this early stage of learning, the child’s mind can easily acquire the seeds of piety which will make him accustomed to the rudiments of good behaviour.
He also suggested that at this young age, subjects would be better learnt through games and stories. Erasmus also stressed the need for mothers to participate fully in the early education of the child, while fathers taught moral and scriptural instructions. Generally Erasmus’ emphasis on infant education suggested the right training and method of Instruction. Also in the generation of Erasmus was Juan Luis Vives. His contribution to the development of early childhood education in this age centred on helping the child imbibe goodness and right knowledge beginning at infancy.
He also recommended that teaching at the early childhood stage could firstly be done in the child’s mother-tongue. Above all, learning should come through play and practical activities. The industrial period in Europe The rapid expansion in the overall population of Europe during the Industrial Revolution was matched by increases in the proportion of people who lived in towns and cities, and in the proportion of the population who were children. This dramatic social, political and economic transformation served to reveal the utter inadequacy of England’s educational provision.
A number of reports highlighted the deficiencies and called for more and better schools. To fill the gaps, and to provide for England’s newly-industrialised society various types of school began to be established to offer some basic education to the masses. One such school is the infant school Infant schools They admitted two to six year olds and cared for them while their parents were at work in the local cotton mills. The instruction of children under six was to consist of ‘whatever might be supposed useful that they could understand, and much attention was devoted to singing, dancing , and playing’.
Infant schools were thus at first partly ‘minding schools’ for young children in industrial areas; but they also sought to promote the children’s physical well-being and to offer opportunities for their moral and social training and to provide some elementary instruction in the 3Rs,(reading, writing and ‘rithmetic) so that the children could make more rapid progress when they entered the monitorial school. This system of infant education left its mark for many years on the curriculum and buildings of elementary schools (for children above age six).
The Education in Traditional African setup African indigenous education can generally be defined as the form of learning in Africa traditional societies in which knowledge, skills, and attitudes of the tribe, were passed from elders to children, by means of oral instructions and practical activities. In traditional African society, education was quite functional and aimed at training the child to acquire knowledge and skills and internalize the customs and norms of the people. The African child is born into a family or society where he looks up to his ancestors and elders for support.
The younger children look up to the older siblings as characters to emulate. Thus the traditional family with their communal living provided an anchorage for the younger ones in all aspects of their training. In this society, the extended family system, no matter how distant, was seen as a member of the immediate home, and played a role in the upbringing of the child. But today, with modernisation and increasing economic problems, it is becoming difficult to look beyond the immediate family. Essentially at a very early age, once the child was weaned, he was taught to accept some moral responsibilities.
The traditional agencies of socialisation include the family, kin-group, social group and age groups. Even though today these agencies are still crucial to the early education of the child, they are quite modified with lesser roles. In other words, the cohesiveness of traditional African society is today weakened with the emphasis on child individualism as advocated by Rousseau and other child-centred pragmatists. Basically though, the African child in the traditional setting just like the kindergarten school child in modern society was taught in the most practical way.
He was made to learn from older people, especially from his mother. He learnt through initiation, recitation and demonstration. He participated in recreational exercises like dancing and singing, wrestling, drumming and other physical displays that suited his age. He was also taught elementary practical skills. Finally, he imbibed intellectual training from story – telling, stories from local history of his people, poetry, proverbs and riddles. The learning experiences were made orally and the knowledge was stored in the heads of elders.
The instructors were carefully selected from the family or clan. Their task was to impart knowledge, skills and attitudes to the young, informally at the didactic and practical levels. at the didactic level the teaching process took the form of the stories, legends, riddles, and songs; while at the practical level individuals enacted what they had learnt didactically, by imitating and watching what their elders performed. The child was also taught through play, the names of plants, animals, birds and the local geography of his area.
DEVELOPMENT OF EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION IN KENYA During colonial time The first recorded school for young children in Kenya was founded at Rabai (a coastal province) in 1886 by the Church Missionary Societies. The first early care centers can be traced to the 1940s, when British colonists established centers to serve both European and Asian children. During the same period, the colonial government established early childhood care centers for Kenyan children living on the tea, coffee, and sugar plantations. These centers were set up in response to Mau Mau uprisings and struggles for independence.
The centers were nonacademic child care settings and only provided custodial care, a situation that persisted until the early 1970s Kenya’s system of early childhood care and education reflected a separate and stratified society, with Europeans receiving educational resources superior to that received by people from Asian and Arab cultures; Africans came last. The colonial government argued that the different races needed the kind of education that was deemed “appropriate” for their respective positions in colonial life.
According to Rodney (1981), this colonial schooling approach was akin to “education for underdevelopment. ” In 1954, UNICEF started supporting early childhood development and education in Kenya. Its focus was support for the health of mother and child. In later years, UNICEF expanded beyond the goals of child survival to include development and education. Post independence Kenya President Jomo Kenyatta’s call for a national philosophy of Harambee, which means “Let’s pull together. ” saw mobilization of communal labor groups in order to achieve certain education and socioeconomic goals.
Early care and education of children was considered to be a community concern necessitating collaboration. Communities raised money to purchase land and other materials to build schools. The labor was provided free of charge by community members. The parents and especially the mothers organized themselves into groups to build and manage the centres. The centres were small, simple in structure and catered for children from the village. Some of them were maintained within regular school buildingswhile others were placed in individual homes, makeshift sheds, or even outdoors, under trees.
One of the mothers was chosen as the “teacher” and children were brought to the centre while the other mothers went to work. The activities were mainly games, songs and dances and a few ABC related activities. By 1970, the increasing participation of Kenyan women in the labor force, the growing number of female-headed households and changing family structures and child-rearing practices created new demands for external support. The community alone could no longer be the primary provider of nutrition, health care, and education for preschool children.
Consequently, the government encouraged the formation of partnerships as a way to coordinate resources and share costs of early childhood care and education. The Ministry of Education became involved in overall administration, policy-making, provision of grants for training, and professional guidance of preschool education. Collaborative Partnerships In the 1970s, the government entered into partnerships with communities and other institutions engaged in the provision of preschool education in Kenya.
These partnerships involved nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), parastatal bodies, religious organizations, the Bernard van Leer Foundation, The Aga Khan Foundation, and UNICEF In 1972, a 10-year Preschool Education Project was undertaken at the Kenya Institute of Education by the Ministry of Education and the Bernard van Leer Foundation. The main objective of the research project was to improve the quality of preschool education through three key areas: 1) development of training models for ECCE personnel; 2) development of a quality curriculum; and 3) development of support materials for use by children, teachers, and trainers.
–In 1976 pre-school education was established in the Kenya Institute of Education (KIE) to coordinate preschool programme. -October 1982 the Ministry of Basic Education and the Bernard Van Leer Foundation held a national seminar on preschool education in Malindi with the aim of reviewing the progress achieved during the preschool project’s first decade and making recommendations for the rapid development of preschool education in Kenya. Outcomes of the Malindi Seminar -(i) A preschool section was established in the Ministry of Education. (ii) Clear policies were formulated to guide preschool education in Kenya. (iii)
In 1984, the Ministry of Education established the National Center for Early Childhood Education (NACECE), a national endeavor aimed at harmonizing the growth, evaluation, and oversight of early childhood education. (iv) In 1985 a network of sub-centers was established at the district level. These centers were called District Centers for Early Childhood Education (DICECE) Milestones of ECE in 1990s 1990 symposium in Mombasa -Kenyatta University and KIE funded by Bernard Van Leer foundation developed content components and regulations for the Bachelor of Education (ECE) . The prrogramme did not take off at this time .
The centre for Early Childhood Education was established at Kenyatta University in 1995. –Increased funding by the government and the world bank of the early childhood development project. -In 1997 the Kenya government procured a credit from the world bank to support ECDE programmes in the centres. The project was implemented between 1997 and 2002. Its main objectives were to: (i) Increase access of ECDE services (ii) Improve child health and nutrition status (iii) Improve quality of personnel and reduce dropout and repetition rates at lower primary school –Alternative and complementary approaches launched by UNICEF.
-The government through the sessional paper no. 1 of 2005 recommended the development of comprehensive ECDE policy framework and service standard guideline. The policy and the service standard guidelines were launched in 2007. ***************************************************************************** Access and participation in education at the ECDE level in Kenya are still low with a Net Enrolment rate (NER) of 42% in 2009 and 50% in 2010. This means that 58% and 50% 0f school age-going pupils were not in school in 2009 and2010 respectively.
The lowest values in enrolment were observed in North Eastern province 5%. Low access levels in the country can be explained by the fact that ECDE was not compulsory in spite of being critical in laying the foundation for performance in the subsequent levels of education. Currently the following sponsors and agencies offer preschool education services in Kenya (i) Parents/committees/ local community : they are responsible for putting up buildings and furniture. (ii) church Organizations. Nursery schools are built on church compounds or use church buildings as classrooms during the week.
Some churches employ teachers and some assist with a feeding programme. (iii) Firms, estates and corporations. Some have established preschools for their employees children. They also employ the teachers and provide the equipment. (iv) Voluntary organizations. (Lions Club, Red, Child Welfare Society). They have initiated the construction and running of preschools. (v) Women’s organizations such as Kanu Maendeleo ya Wanawake,YMCA,Women’s Guild which run some institutions for young children (vi) private communities/individuals (vii) Local government. Functions of NACECE * Training of personnel for ECE .
* Development and dissemination of the curriculum for ECE programmes. * Identifying, designing, undertaking and coordinating research in ECE. * Offering services and facilitating interaction between agencies and sponsors. * Coordinating and liaising with external partners and also informing the public on the needs and developments of the ECE programme. The functions of the DICECE * Training of the pre-school teachers and other personnel at the district level.
* Supervision and inspection of pre-school programme at district level. * Mobilization of local communities in the pre-school programme so as to improve the care, health, nutrition and education of young children. * Development of pre-school curriculum. * Participation in the evaluation of pre-school programmes and carrying out basic research on the status of pre-school children in and out of school. Challenges facing Early Childhood Development Education Programmes in Kenya ?Mushrooming of ECDE centres. Many ECDE centres continue to be opened by communities And individuals sometimes without proper supervision and regulations. ?Low funding of ECDE programmes by the exchequer in comparison with other levels of education.
?Problems in Access: Household, communities, NGOs and other private providers primarily Provide ECDE, which makes the programme inaccessible to the majority of households due to the high cost of providing the services. ?Policy formulation: Inadequate clear policy to guide ECDE has led to un-coordinated service Provision between government organs, the NGOs, international agencies and the local communities. ?ECDE centers all over the country offer different services and this is made worse by competition for admission to good primary school and also the fact that many private centers are commercially based and are competing for children.
?Education policy: Kenya has no clear national philosophy of education or a solid national Education policy. The two should be clearly defined and put in place to guide the development of education. ?Widespread poverty and poor economic growth hampering the quality of sustainable ECDE programmes. The government should increase learning facilities and also introduce feeding programmes. ?Lack of awareness: Many communities and parents lack awareness on the importance of ECDE for both girls and boys. The government should sensitize parents and communities on the importance of ECDE. ?
Lack of identification of children with special needs: . The government lacks an institutionalized system for early identification of children with special needs,specially gifted and talented children who cannot fit in the mainstream schools in ECDE centres. This is a critical issue that needs to be addressed as the gifted and talented might end up dropping out of school. ?Inadequate Physical Facilities: Most ECDE programmes have inadequate physical facilities, equipments and materials inadequate ECDE materials owing to the fact that many publishers decline to undertake publishing of ECDE materials as they lack quick and ready markets ?
Lack of schemes of service for ECDE teachers: Low and irregular remuneration of pre-school Teachers thus adversely affecting the morale of pre-schoolteachers. To address this issue the government should develop and implement a scheme of service for ECDE teachers. . At the moment ECDE teachers are employed by community committees and their salaries depend on the local income of parents. ?Poor transition to primary school: Absence of a smooth transition from pre-school to primary.
Schools result in high wastage in the form of elevated repetition and dropout rates at the primary education level, especially standard 1,2 and 3. A World Bank sponsored study by Nyamwanya and mwaura (1995)in its focus on transition between pre-school and primary school examined the teaching methods and learning of the two systems of education. The study observed that both teachers and parents of lower primary perceived child readiness from an academic perspective and this influenced the teaching methods and content used in pre-schools to prepare children for primary school.
?Inadequate qualified ECDE teachers Due to high rates of attrition as a result of the poor pay packages many pre-school teachers are untrained and so lack skills to enhance the holistic development and learning of children. ?Lack of supervision: This has also affected the quality of services. Quality Assurance Standard Officers (QUASO) is not adequately equipped to handle inspection and assessment of ECDE services, including issues relating to transition. ?Relevance to curricula: Relevance of ECDE refers to how appropriate a particular ECDE Programme addresses the development needs of pre-school children.
Consequently, the area of curriculum in terms of teaching methods and content has raised attention from researchers’ in ECDE. Many pre-schools overemphasize the teaching 3 Rs. This is attributed to parental pressure and interviews for entry to standard one. Many ECDE teachers spend a lot of time preparing children for entry into primary school and cover the academic content of standard one. ?Rising number of orphans: HIV/AIDS pandemic is one of the greatest challenges to mankind. The Education sector is experiences lower Productivity due to absenteeism of ailing teachers.
And students, also number of orphans has been in the increase resulting in low enrolment and increase in the dropout rates in ECDE centres. ?Medium of instruction: ECDE centres should use Kiswahili, or local language as the media of instruction, the government should institutionalize and put in place, mechanisms and strategies of making Kiswahili a medium of instruction. Books written in English should be translated to Kiswahili and other local languages. Teachers handling lower ECDE should be in serviced on the use of mother tongue as a medium for instruction.
However children in the urban and slum areas learn different languages and hence young children do not learn their first languages adequately. ?Free Primary Education Universal Free Primary Education (FPE) in 2003 did not include ECDE services. Early Childhood Development services continue to be provided on a partnership basis between the parents, the local communities and the government. Free Primary Education affected the co- operation of ECDE parent sin the following ways: (a)Some parents refused to pay fees to ECDE centres (b)Parents refused to contribute toward the building of ECDE.
(c)Some parents refused to take their children to ECDE centres hence wait for FPE (d)In some cases, the ECDE classes in public schools were taken by the FPE pupils leaving ECDE children out of class. (e)Some of the ECDE teacher’s lost their jobs while others were underpaid due to the non- payment of fees in the ECDE centres. (f)Many untrained teachers were employed to replace the trained teachers who were demanding more money/higher salaries. (f)The under age children were admitted in lower primary classes affecting enrolment in ECDE centres ? Culture: (a) female genital mutilation, early child marriage, gender bias.
(b)Pastoralism ; affects ECDE in that Families might be far apart making the centre to be very far for some children to access. Children are also part of the society and are trained to look after animals at an early age so they also follow animals at the expense of schooling and as a result centres can only be established if there is a teacher who will be able to shift with the families. Early childhood Education There are different names for the various establishments that take care of preschool children * Daycare or play group: for children below the age of three. Working mothers use them as safe places to keep their children.
* Creche : for children below three years. This establishment is usually located where the mother is working. * The kindergarten : normally refers to the school for children between three and six years. In Kenya they are found mainly in urban areas. They are privately run and costly. * Nursery schools : Usually for children between three and five years. A majority of these in Kenya are found in rural areas. They are managed by parents committees and some are assisted by local authorities. * Preschool units or reception classes: These are usually attached to and managed by primary schools.
They serve children aged five and older who are preparing to enroll in the first primary grade at the same school. A majority of these are found in urban areas. The direct government in early childhood education started soon after independence in 1963. The Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Health were charged with the responsibility of inspecting nursery schools and day care centres to ensure the health and the safety of children. –In 1966 in Kenya The German volunteers Services had assisted the department of community development and social services to train local personnel to work inndaycare centres.
–In 1968 there were 76 supervisors and 290 trained teachers. –Advisory committee on daycare centrwe programme was founded in 1968 under the ministry of housing and social services. This committee contributed to the formulation of the programme objectives and guidelines and made recommendations on instruction at the training and school levels. Tge committee became inactive in 1973. –In 1969 in a seminar to evaluate preschool education in Kenya , it was recommended that (i) There should be a national policy on pre-school education that would encourage self help efforts.
(ii) Formulating a working committee to formulate the working principles of the programme and coordinate the efforts of all agencies concerned and to promote expansion of the proogramme by reviewing training programmes and conditions of services of personnel. (iii) The ministry of Cooperatives and Sociial Services was to function as the coordinator of nursery school activities. Central government was to provide nursery centre supervisors at provincial and district levels. –Establishment of major trainng centre to train personnel.
There was one major training centre and several smaller units to train personnel at provincial levels. The government wass to contribute to and completely finance the highest category of district trainers and supervisors. The local committees and parent committee were to contribute by paying teaschers salaries and to subsidize their upkeep at the training centres. Theere was also a single certificate awarding body. –The government was to sponsor training. The candidates to be sponsored were to be 18 years old. They were to possess a minimum of certificate of primary education.
The course was to be localized to allow the use of local languages. –Attainment of international standard, as pertains the nursery facilities; there were to be 25 children per teacher with the goal of achieving international standards of 15 children per teacher. –Establishment of parents committee. These were to give financial and moral support. They were also to seek advise of District planning committee before setting up nursery schools. 1970-1979 N. B 1969 recommendations served as a guiding principle for the future development of early childhood development in Kenya.
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