Challenges Faced in the Provision of Quality Early Childhood Education in Kitui District, Kenya
In Kenya, Early Childhood Education (ECE) has not been given enough attention at the policy level to enable it provide all children with the necessary readiness for formal education. It was not clear what problems are faced in ECE provision in the country. Without a clear policy that sets guidelines for curriculum development and implementation, teacher qualifications, and fees guidelines, early childhood education providers in Kitui District are likely to be facing problems in provision of this service. The purpose of the study was to find out the challenges faced in the provision of Early Childhood Education (ECE) in Kitui District. The study adopted a descriptive survey research design. The research was carried out in the 812 Early Childhood Education Centres in Kitui District, Kenya, All the 812 managers/headteachers and 1,152 teachers in these centres formed the target population. Simple random sampling was used to select 20 ECE centres, from which the 20 ECE managers/headteachers participated in the study. From the sampled 20 pre-schools the researcher selected 40 pre-school teachers, two from each pre-school. The total sample size was 60 respondents, that is, 40 teachers and 20 pre-school managers/headteachers. Data was collected using a questionnaire for teachers and an interview schedule from managers/headteachers. Quantitative data was analyzed using descriptive statistics, mainly frequency counts and percentages, and presented using pie charts, bar charts and frequency tables. Qualitative data was organized in themes and reported according to the research questions. The study established that provision of quality Early Childhood Education (ECE) in Kitui District is faced with a number of challenges, key among them being lack of adequate teaching and learning resources in the centres, lack of adequately trained teachers, failure to follow a uniform and well designed ECE curriculum, shortage of funds due to poverty among parents in the region, negative attitude of the community towards early childhood education, and long distances from home to ECE centres. The study therefore concludes that unless the government incorporates early childhood education into the free primary education programme and provides adequate financial resources, a uniform curriculum and policy guidelines, provision of this vital service in Kitui district will continue to be poor.