Determinants of public investment in early chilhood developement within the education sector at national and local levels in Uganda
Research has shown that significant investment in Early Childhood Development (ECD) is a strategic avenue for national development due to benefits that accrue from it. Studies from other countries with different social, economic and political environment from Uganda have identified policy and contextual determinants as crucial for investment in ECD, while those specific to Uganda are yet to be determined. The purpose of this study was to establish the level of investment in ECD and identify the contextual and policy determinants for such investment. The objectives included establishing level of investment in ECD, and establishing the relationship between policy and contextual determinants and investment in ECD. Contemporary conflict theory, which emphasizes existence of opposing forces in groups and social structures with different motives and expectations, was used to explain investment determinants. The study used Ex Post Facto research design. Level of investment was the dependent variable, while contextual and policy determinants were independent variables. The study was carried out in 40 out of 77 districts in Uganda that were stratified and later randomly selected. A total of 90 respondents including 10 ECD policy makers, 40 Education Officers, and 40 ECD focal persons were purposively sampled. Questionnaires and document review were used to collect data. Spearman Rank Correlation Coefficients (rho) and Pearson's Product Moment Correlation Coefficient (r) were used to establish relationships, while Descriptive Analysis was used for qualitative data. Simple Linear Regression Analysis was employed to determine the best predictor for investment. Findings indicate an investment percentage for ECD of 7.94% of the education expenditure at national level and 25.72% at the local level. There was significant relationship between total policy determinants and investment in ECD (rho (9) = .861, P = .001) at the national but not at the local level (r (79) =.-132, p = .242). Total contextual determinants had a significant relationship with investment in ECD both at national (rho (9) = .844, p = .002) and at local level (r (79) = .597, P < .001). It was predicted that if knowledge of Benefits of Investment in ECD (KBI) variable remained constant at the local level, investment in ECD would reduce by UGX 164.490 million annually. The conclusion was that investment in ECD in Uganda is still lower than internationally recommended levels. If knowledge levels stay the same, the trend of investment in ECD may continue on the decline. We may also see more grade repetition of children in the primary schools, increased drop out rates, failed development of children and low attainment of both MDGs and EF A. It was recommended that more effort be put to sensitize leaders at all levels on the benefits of significant investments in ECD so as to prompt them into actions culminating in increased investment levels in ECD that matches internationally agreed proportions.