World Teacher’s Day 2023: Let’s celebrate our ECDE Teachers by Dr. Purity Ngina

Today brings nostalgic memories of 2009 when I joined Egerton University for a Bachelor of Education Science-to be a teacher. Like any 19-year-old youth, I had mixed feelings as to whether this was the right decision. My mum was very convinced; on many occasions, she would praise God for taking her daughter to Egerton and choosing the best course-Mwalimu. Allow me to confess that I had successfully tried inter-university transfer to the University of Nairobi and got an admission letter for the Bachelor of Arts-I wanted to be in the city. Fortunately, mama and I did not know what a bachelor’s of arts entailed-every evening leading to me joining Egerton, we would engage in conversations on what this “ARTS” is all about, could it be Art and Craft? We would wonder. My mum had no tertiary education, this was excitedly all new.

“Riu ugathii university gucora?” Translated as: You mean you will go to the university to draw? She would ask and this thought would make her so sad, which explains why she was so elated when I joined Egerton University.

I settled into the university very fast, and my first resolution was to get a good grade. I wanted to teach and inspire my students to perform better, and as a matter of principle, I only preach what I take, whether wine or water. 4 years later, I would graduate on top of the class- was happy with myself.  I was a confident teacher.

For many years, I have taught, and now, as a researcher in the Education sector, I am convinced that I made the right decision, that I was born to teach-that any country’s progress is a reflection of its education and the people implementing the education-The Teachers.

As a young mother, though, I have come to appreciate the ECDE teachers like my son’s Teacher- Ms Lilian.  She and many others have the hardest job, from toileting, to scooping, to feeding, to dressing etc. They do the things that parents find difficult. Sadly, under the devolved government, many ECDE teachers have not been hired permanently, and their working conditions are poor with many getting less than Kes 10,000.  Evidently, the poor working conditions have discouraged many from pursuing ECDE as a career, especially now that the entry requirement of primary school teachers and ECDE teachers is the same grade of C. The Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms unearthed many challenges in the ECDE sector and made recommendations. I hope we have heard the cry and we shall do something. The county government must make it lucrative.


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