Poor infrastructure, shortage of teachers and learning materials hamper learning

Nasiandi Pariken, a teacher at Nginyang Primary school in Tiaty with her Early Childhood development (ECD) pupils on February 5, 2019. [Kipsang Joseph/Standard]
It is midday at Nginyang in Tiaty sub-county and temperatures are above 30 degrees Celsius.

Under a thorn tree that barely keeps away the scorching sun, a group of children aged five and six years squat on the dusty ground.

Some are peering at a battered blackboard that is leaning against the tree and straining to follow what the teacher, who can barely keep the board up, is saying.

Others look lost, almost as if they are waiting for something to happen. And they are: nearly the entire class is waiting for lunchtime.

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In fact, most of the pupils would not have turned up for class if they had not been promised some food.

Welcome to Nginyang early childhood development education (ECDE) centre - a perfect example of how counties are struggling to keep the young ones in school.

At Nginyang, a dry, famine ravaged part of Tiaty sub-county that largely depends on relief supplies, a school feeding programme has enticed dozens of children to ECDEs with almost non-existent facilities.

"We do our best to assist them, but we can only do so much," said Musa Terter, the Nginyang ECDE centre headteacher.

The centre has 126 pupils, but only one functional classroom.

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Two classrooms made of iron sheets were condemned after their roofs were blown off by strong winds last month.

The remaining classroom can only hold 40 pupils. The rest have to make do with a tree and the dry, dusty ground to serve as desks.

“Teaching under a tree is not easy, especially when you do not have teaching and learning materials,” said Naisiandi Pariken, a teacher at the centre.

The situation is even worse at Napeikore ECDE centre, where Benson Zeron, a volunteer, handles four classes, from pre-school to Class Four. With only three rooms available, pre-school pupils have to learn under a tree.

Grim picture

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At  Kapau ECDE centre, Onesmas Pkiyeny, a Class Eight dropout, tries his best to instil as much of the knowledge he has as possible, and in the best way he knows.

Still, looking into the eyes of the children squatted on the ground before him, one notices a yearning for something more and better.

This is not surprising. A report by the Centre for Enhancing Democracy and Good Governance (CEDGG) released in 2018 painted a grim picture of the state of early childhood education in Baringo.

The report, covering Baringo Central, Baringo North, Baringo South and Tiaty, indicated that most of the centres had only one teacher handling, on average, 80 pupils.

The report painted a picture of a neglect and compromised standards.

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Churo ECDE centre, for example, had only one teacher while at Todo, two teachers handled more than 120 pupils.

All the schools barely had any equipment, with the majority using the dusty ground for seats and desks.

At Chepelow ECDE centre, pupils at different levels of learning share a classroom, each level facing a different direction.

Others were clear examples of poor workmanship. For example, although Todo and Kampinyasi ECDE centres were constructed and completed in April 2015, the floors developed cracks barely two years later.

The audit findings showed that nearly all ECDE centres lacked proper toilet facilities, with pupils relying on neighbouring institutions or, in some cases, sharing a single facility with their teachers.

Access to clean water posed a major challenge to nearly all ECDE centres, with learners having to walk kilometres in search of the vital commodity.

Poor management

The report also faulted ECDE centres for poor or non-existent management. For instance, Tartar ECDE centre did not have a management committee in place.

Baringo County Director of Education Tom Tubei admitted that the county's 1,045 ECDE centres were facing numerous challenges that his department was in the process of addressing.

Until this happens, the long education journey for hundreds of young learners in Tiaty is beginning on the wrong note.

Tiaty sub-countyTiaty schoolsPoor learning facilitiesECDE