NEWS: Promoting Inclusive Early Childhood Development

April 28, 2023 | 4:41 pm

Group photo of ECD stakeholders working in Inclusive ECD in Kenya. ©Aga Khan University Photo/Maureen Ooko
By​ Maureen Ooko, Communications Officer, Aga Khan University

The Aga Khan University Institute for Human Development (IHD) is creating a course on inclusive early childhood practices. The course seeks to provide training to the early childhood development workforce including early childhood education practitioners, community health workers, policy makers and caregivers, among others, to better understand childhood disability and ways to identify, assess and support children with disabilities and their families.

According to the World Health Organization & World Bank in their 2011 World Report on Education, the prevalence of disability in Kenya could be as high as 15% of the population, which translates to over 6.6 million Kenyans including children and youth who might have a disability. Of this population, a significant number of children do not grow to achieve their full potential. Data from a 2018 Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) report shows that there is a high dropout of children with disabilities from schools. The high dropout is because of many factors including the insufficient support accorded to these children and their families. Additionally, it increases the vulnerability and marginalization of these children in their early years, barring them from realizing their full potential.

At IHD and through our course, we want to be part of the movement that changes this sad situation.

To ensure that we create a course that fully addresses the needs of children with disabilities, we organized a forum that brought together various ECD stakeholders working in Inclusive ECD. The stakeholders included civil society organizations supporting inclusive ECD, educators, caregivers of children with disability, as well as representatives from county government, Kenya’s Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education.

Speaking at the forum, IHD Manager Margaret Kabue said, “We are going to discuss how we can create short courses to increase the skill base of frontline health workers, policy makers and early childhood practitioners to help them effectively identify and support children with disabilities and their families.”

The inclusive ECD course will form part of the courses housed under the ECD Workforce Hub managed by IHD and generously funded by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and Aga Khan Foundation. The course is designed from research gathered on the needs of children with disabilities across multiple countries in the East and Southern Africa region, including Kenya and Tanzania. The other courses already developed and running include the Science of Early Child Development (SECD) course and the ECD Policy Makers Workshop.