On paper the 600 Early Childhood Development Education (ECDE) centers, the executive touts to have constructed in the county in the first term, seems very impressive.
However, a tour to various ECDE centers across reveals stalled projects, marked with poor workmanship and a clear waste of county resources. The classrooms were constructed at the cost of Sh750, 000. The county spent Sh74 million on the ECDE projects.
At Kabirer ECDE center, the stalled building has since become a sex den.
When we visited the center located in Waldai Ward in Belgut Constituency we were shocked to read on the door these words written using chalk, “Sure Condom”.
On stepping inside the room, we found used condom and a wrapper thrown on the dusty floor giving a clear indication that the room had been used for a clandestine activity.
Mrs. Ruth Kirui, who lives in the neighborhood said the project stalled in 2014 and there was no explanation from the county government why it stalled and when it will continue.
“We have been waiting for it to open so that our children can stop trekking long distances in search of education. We are willing to buy desks and pay teachers even it’s opened as a private learning facility,” she said.
At Kaptembwo ECDE center in Kipkelion East Constituency, the contractor not only constructed the classroom on a slope but dug a shallow foundation.
Two levels of foundation stones which ought to be buried below the surface are already exposed.
At Kimasian ECDE in the same constituency, the contractor did not cement the floor or fix doors and windows. The brick wall is also very weak and the roof is already showing signs of caving.
Kedowa/Kimugul Member of County Assembly (MCA) Denis Kirui, said the poor state of the ECDE centers had forced him to raise the matter at the floor of the house.
“After noting the shoddy work at Kimasian ECDE center, I took to the county assembly to seek a statement from the department of education and a team of engineers was dispatched to the scene and determined that the structures have to be condemned,” he said.
At Sosit ECDE center in Kapsoit ward poor workmanship is also the hallmark of the contractor. Worse, what was meant to be the toilet remains 12 feet gaping hole on the ground.
Mrs Fancy Ngeno, the primary school head teacher said the 45 ECDE pupils have to queue with older boys and girls in upper classes to use the school’s main toilet which is a tiny brick block divided into two for the use by boys and girls.
“What was meant to the ECDE toilet is an open pit which is a danger to the pupils since even when we cover it using timber, they are stolen,” she said.
Former Education Chief Officer Bernard Korir, who was in charge of the project but has since been moved to ICT docket, blamed the stalling of the projects on the county going for quantity instead of quality.
"Kericho managed to construct over 600 ECDEs at a flat rate of Sh750,000. After deductions, the contractor would get only Sh500, 000 hence affecting profitability. This led them to do shoddy works,” he said.
He added that they had since changed the approach in the construction of ECDE centers.
“If you check the latest projects, we moved from using bricks to stone blocks. We are currently constructing 28 standard ECDE centers across the county at the cost of Sh1.2 million,” said Korir.