Follow the law, governors say as they reject bid to hand over ECDE

Kakamega Governor Fernandes Barasa. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Governors are opposed to plans that seek to revert the management of Early Childhood and Development centres to the central government.

Through the Council of Governors (COG), county chiefs argue that the national government did not follow the due procedures allowing the takeover of devolved functions.

Fernandes Barasa, the chairperson of the COG Finance, Economic, and Planning Affairs Committee, who is also the Kakamega Governor, said the Ministry of Education should adhere to due procedures, including an inter-governmental agreement, to take over the management of Early Childhood Development Education (ECDE) centres.

"As the chair of Finance at the Council of Governors, I want to inform the national government that ECDE is a fully devolved function, and we will not permit the function to be taken back to the national government through an illegal procedure," said Barasa.

The governor spoke during the finals of the Lugari NG-CDF tournament at Lugari Primary School grounds. He expressed the opinion that the government should reconsider the plan and permit counties to manage ECDE centers.

This statement follows Education CS Ezekiel Machogu's announcement that ECDEs are now part of comprehensive schools, covering pre-primary, primary, and junior secondary levels.

"The comprehensive schools will commence in January, with head teachers overseeing pre-primary up to Grade 9 to facilitate a seamless transition," Machogu said during a TV interview.

Barasa further urged President William Ruto to fulfil his promise, ensuring the complete transfer of devolved functions along with the associated resources before the end of the current financial year.

In a letter dated December 28, 2023, CoG Chair Anne Waiguru said the management of ECDE is solely the responsibility of county governments. "The role of managing ECD centres is preserved for counties, and no law or official arrangement has been made to change the status quo," said Waiguru.

Earlier last year, the Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms proposed the repeal of the Early Childhood Education Act to integrate early childhood education into basic education.

The Working Party on Education Reforms asserted that basic education begins at pre-primary and concludes in senior school.

Additionally, the Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms suggested that the Education Ministry, CoG, and Teacher Service Commission (TSC) collaborate to develop an inter-governmental agreement concerning the hiring and remuneration of Pre-Primary teachers.

Lugari MP Nabii Nabwera expressed concern about the delayed disbursement of funds, which he believes will impede school heads from effectively managing institutions in the upcoming academic year.

Nabwera mentioned that he wrote a letter on January 1, 2024, to Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi and Majority Leader Kimani Ichungwa, urging Parliament to resume next week for an urgent discussion on the matter.

"We have not received bursary funds, and CDF has yet to be released. Schools are also waiting for capitation monies. I request the Speaker to ensure an early resumption for us to discuss the development budget," said Nabwera.

"We have not received any money for bursary, CDF, or capitation for schools. I am reaching out to my fellow members to support my motion for an immediate session to discuss the way forward before schools resume.

"This will help us address the looming crisis and stalemate in our schools caused by the lack of funds," said the MP.