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Outcry as ECDE centre is converted to a college

By Bakari Ang’ela | November 9th 2021

When Bishop Mahon ECDE Centre in Lodwar was established in 1983, the aim was to offer basic education to children from the pastoralist Turkana community.

However, 38 years later, the school set up by Catholic missionaries to educate underprivileged children is rocked by controversy after it was converted to a teachers training college (TTC) a month ago, under unclear circumstances.

The ECDE centre, located in Turkana Central, was the brainchild of Bishop Mahon, the first Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Lodwar.

On Saturday, Turkana leaders, led by Governor Josphat Nanok, held a fundraiser to mobilise money to expand the ECDE centre after its elevation to a TTC.

But hours after the funds drive, the move sparked outrage among stakeholders, with ECDE representative in the county, John Ngasike, saying the learners now have no alternative.

Ngasike said parents want answers as to why the national government could not just buy land and set up a TTC.

He said the TTC is critical and necessary, but it was wrong to turn an ECDE centre into a college.

“Currently, locals have shunned teaching to work for the county government. This has created a shortage of teachers in both primary and secondary schools,” Ngasike said.

He asked leaders agitating for the elevation of the ECDE centre to a college to approach the matter carefully before denying children their right to basic education.

“I condemn political declarations that appear to oppress little children because they can’t speak for themselves. Why would a TTC replace an ECDE centre that has been in existence for decades?” Ngasike says.

On the other hand, Governor Nanok and other leaders are welcoming the project, saying the newly established Bishop Mahon TTC will be the only teacher-training institution in the county.

Speaking during the funds drive, Nanok said the TTC is the first in Turkana, describing it as a breakthrough in the county’s quest for more tertiary institutions.

He defended the move to fundraise for a national government project, saying the institution required support to build better infrastructure.

“The institution still has so many challenges; the buildings are insufficient, the compound is small, the capitation from the national government supposed to help infrastructure development has not been budgeted for.

“That is why we are here today to fundraise from our pockets to kick-start the institution and also to lobby the national government to include the TTC in its budgets,” the governor said.

MPs John Lodepe (Turkana Central) and Daniel Epuyo (Turkana West) and nominated MCA Matthew Alany were among leaders who raised Sh1.5 million during the funds drive.

Nanok thanked the Teacher's Service Commission (TSC) for posting seven tutors to the institution, including Deputy Principal Mark Wabuli.

He urged the Board of Management to be innovative in resource mobilisation and encouraged institutions in the private sector to support and complement government resources. He promised to also mobilise support from development partners.

Vicar General Paul Areman, who is Bishop Mahon TTC Board Chairman, said the county has been supporting the project, leading to its elevation to a college.

College Principal Leah Losiru said most of the teacher trainees were needy and require bursaries.  

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