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Investing in early years education

Children play with learning materials at an early childhood care and development centre
Children play with learning materials at an early childhood care and development centre

Plan International Kenya is committed to improving access to healthcare for children and their parents. Our health programme is designed to connect children, parents and communities to the highest attainable standard of health care, thus ensuring positive, lasting change in their lives.

For a long time, parents in a remote village in Homa Bay County thought that school started at the primary level. Because of this, most parents waited until their children were seven or eight to send them to school.

However, since Plan International began implementing their early childhood care and development (ECCD) programme, there has been a remarkable shift in the community’s mind set, and parents have embraced ECCD as an integral part to the foundation of their children’s future.

Martin Ombima, Manager of Plan International Kenya’s ECCD programme, explains that the goal of the project is to help parents embrace the idea that the child’s early years (in this case 0-8 years) is a key foundation to the start of their life.

“It is during this time when their brains undergo dramatic growth and development,” says Ombima. “At this time, children acquire the ability to think, speak, learn and reason. Ultimately, this period shapes the rest of their childhood, adolescence and adult life.”

It is this kind of vital knowledge that communities have been able to access through the programme, including parenting educations sessions and community facilitators.

“When we first started out with the parenting sessions, many parents viewed it as a waste of their time as they did not see the monetary value,” says Samuel Otiego, a Parenting Education Facilitator.

“However the attitudes changed slowly as they began to realise it was a lifetime investment to the future of their children.”

One parent who has had a change of mind is Anne Atieno. She says: “Through the sessions, I learnt that as a parent I need to understand and be sensitive to the development needs of my children especially when they are very young.”

Anne now practises the knowledge she has gained on her three-year-old daughter, Jael Akinyi, who is in pre-school.