The Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health and the County Government of Turkana, in collaboration with the Early Childhood Development (ECD) Network for Kenya, hosted the Fifth National ECD Stakeholders Conference. The conference brought together practitioners, researchers, policymakers and leaders from national and county governments, research institutions, civil society organizations, the private sector, donors, and the media.
The conference provided an opportunity for participants to gain knowledge and insights on cultural / indigenous child-rearing practices; models of good practice for children living in diverse circumstances; community systems engagement including through enhanced technology use; ECD financing, investment and budgeting; the Children Act (2022) in relation to ECD implementation, reimagining the Nurturing Care Framework (NCF); coordination, collaboration and implementation of ECD to reach all children.
The Early Childhood Development Network for Kenya (ECD Network for Kenya)
The ECD Network for Kenya exists to strengthen coordination and collaboration on ECD initiatives in Kenya among relevant actors and supports development and implementation of ECD policies and programs. The Network undertakes capacity development, research and advocacy working with National and County Governments, civil society organizations, parents and community members to ensure that children access and participate in high quality, holistic ECD programs based on international best practices. Specifically, the Network seeks to: promote, support, sustain and advance an enabling environment for implementation of nurturing care for ECD through research, advocacy, effective partnerships, and strengthened multi sector collaborations. More: https://ecdnetworkforkenya.org/
The Nurturing Care Framework provides a roadmap for action to support best practices to support early childhood development, how it can be improved through policy and intervention. The Constitution of Kenya acknowledges the Convention of the Rights of the Child; Article 53 guarantees the right of every child to free and compulsory education, nutrition, shelter, health care and protection. However, marginalized and disadvantaged populations continue to exist in the country.
Guidelines for program implementation, based on policy formulation and oversights, require stronger linkages and interactions between policy, research and practice amongst diverse stakeholders with multi-sectoral coordination. Data capture and gaps lead to lack of coordination among social sectors with limited ECD workforce training and financing continuing to hamper access to ECD services for young children, their care-givers, and their families across the country.
Theme: From Policy & Evidence to Action
● Systems thinking and the Nurturing Care Framework: Strengthening community systems – leveraging the community health strategy to ward level;
● Leveraging intersectionalities: Coordination, Technical Working Groups, and implementation blocks;
● Aligning knowledge: Indigenous and traditional child-rearing practices and cultures that promote nurturing care;
● Reframing inclusivity: A good start for all children; and
● Early Childhood Education: building programs on best practices.
Participants committed to raising the profile of the ECD agenda in Kenya through strategic financial investment, multi-sectoral collaboration and engagement in related public-policy processes at the National and County levels, policy implementation, monitoring and influencing ECD system improvement. Participants also appreciated how ECD features in the County Integrated Development Plans (CIDPs) and mechanisms to upscale ECD programs for disenfranchised children.
Participating leaders in government and non-governmental organizations were presented with evidence and urged to prioritize ECD in CIDPs, share County-level ECD best practices, and engage in mechanisms to scale-up effective programs based on local conditions such as the example of the North Rift Economic Bloc (NOREB).
Participants and Program
The conference targeted participants with diverse expertise and backgrounds from government (National and County), Academia/Research, Donor agencies, Private sector, Community Based Organizations (CBOs), Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), religious organizations, philanthropists and UN agencies.
The conference format included plenary presentations, symposia, group discussions and interactive panel sessions. It also offered an array of formal and informal networking opportunities, an exhibition of the ECD program innovations and ECD best practices, in addition to tools and services.