What is Early Childhood Development?
Early Childhood Development (ECD) refers to the physical, cognitive, linguistic, and socio-emotional development of a child from the prenatal stage up to age eight. This development happens in a variety of settings (Homes, schools, health facilities, community-based centers); and involves a wide range of activities from child care to nutrition to parent education.
85% of the human brain develops by age 5. It is more difficult to improve cognitive development later. 50% of a child’s cognitive capacity is influenced by his/her environment. 71 million children across Africa don’t reach their full potential due to poverty and poor health, nutrition and care. ECD encompasses a number of distinct sub-stages, each of which presents particular needs:
- Pregnancy and peri-natal: prenatal care, attended births, registration, and postnatal care
- 0 to 3: parent education, early stimulation and nutrition interventions, home-based care, crèches
- 3 to 6: parent education, preschool
- 6 to 8: transition to formal education, improved early primary school
From a development point of view, children who come from the most vulnerable and disadvantaged backgrounds need good-quality services and care the most, including children with special needs.
Why is ECD so important?
These early years of life are a window of opportunity to lay a strong foundation for a child’s life. Proper health, nutrition, and early stimulation play a critical role for brain development and child well-being. Around the world, poor children under 5 lag behind their more advantaged peers in physical, language, cognitive, and socio-emotional development. Without access to quality ECD, poor children often fall behind their more advantaged peers before they even begin school. As they get older, the gaps widen: they are likely to perform poorly in school, earn less as adults, and engage in risky social behaviors. How do good quality ECD programs work?
Quality ECD programs improve outcomes by providing:
ü Critical health and nutrition inputs
ü Better access to primary school
ü Higher retention in primary school
ü Improved gender equity in education
ü Lower repetition rates
ü Higher achievement in education
ü ECD programs that address multiple needs – combining nutrition, de-worming, and psychosocial stimulation – have a more positive impact on children’s learning than any of these interventions alone.
Why Invest in Early Childhood Development?
- Children have Rights in Early Childhood: The General Assembly of the United Nations recently added a resolution as an addendum to the Convention on the Rights of the Child concerning the implementation of child rights in early childhood (August 2010). The resolution discusses the responsibility of individuals and nations to protect children, ensuring their survival and development. It recognizes children as active participants in the world who deserve respect and support.
2. Early Childhood Development (ECD) improves equity: ECD programs improve the health, nutrition, and education outcomes of children. Research shows that ECD interventions benefit the poorest and most disadvantaged children the most even though these children currently are the least likely to have access to them. In addition, it is more difficult and more costly to intervene later in children’s lives.
3. ECD is Essential for EFA-FTI Goals:The Education for All-Fast Track Initiative (EFA-FTI) was launched in 2002 as an agreement between low-income countries and their development partners to achieve the education Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of universal primary school completion by 2015 and gender parity in primary and secondary education by 2005. Early childhood care and development (ECD) programs are necessary as the first step to realize the promise of investments in primary and secondary education. When counties invest in ECD services, they set the stage for later learning and productivity.
4. ECD is a Cost-Effective Strategy for Developing Human Capital: Children who participate in quality ECD programs are able to participate in primary school tasks more quickly and successfully. They are less likely to repeat grades or drop out of school, which reduces overall costs in the education system. When adults, their earning potential is higher and they are less likely to engage in crime.
The regular programme is offered throughout the year, that is, Jan-March, May-July & Sept-Nov, and takes a duration of four terms.
The In-service programme is offered during the school holidays i.e. December, April and August and takes a total of six sessions.
The Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC),will issue the students with the respective certificate after sitting and passing the KNEC examination at the end of the course.
1. A DICECE / Montessori Certificate with at least D+ in KCSE or its equivalent OR
2. P1 OR
3. A minimum of KCSE Grade C Plain or its equivalent OR
4. Long serving ECD teachers with a KNEC proficiency examination certificate.
1. A minimum of D+ in KCSE or its equivalent or
2. A pass in KCPE and must have taught for a minimum of 3 years and must have passed a proficiency test offered by KNEC.