- She has volunteered for almost two decades as an ECDE teacher.
- She, with her colleague, anticipate being employed by the county government of Busia.
Early childhood education is critical to a child’s future success as skills gained during education lay the groundwork for lifelong learning.
It ensures that young children will enter school psychologically healthy and ready to succeed.
Healthy development in the early years, particularly birth to three, provides the building blocks for educational achievement, economic productivity, responsible citizenship, lifelong health, strong communities, and successful parenting of the next generation.
In his opening address at the 2009 Malaysian International ECE conference, Prime Minister Najib Razak said, “Every child is precious and children are assets to our society.
They are the most valuable resource of the nation. I believe that developing a nation and its people begins with early childhood education.
While it is the duty of parents to ensure a child has the opportunity to develop, it is also the government’s responsibility to help parents bring the potential to fruition.
In developing a child’s potential, we are in reality developing the human capital of the child and the nation. In carrying out this task, we are enabling the child to grow holistically so that the child is equipped with the abilities, knowledge and skills to become a productive member of the nation.”
Everline Sakwa, a volunteer Early Childhood Development Education (ECDE) teacher from Budalangi in Busia county, has gone the extra mile to improve education standards and also inspire her pupils.
This confirms the key role the long-serving volunteer teacher has played concerning the basic education of the kids in the constituency.
After primary school, she could not proceed to secondary school because her parents were unable to afford to raise the required school fees.
In 2000, she relocated to the then Butere/Mumias District, where she was engaged to teach at the Alumako ECD center that was being run by the Full Gospel Church.
The church-run ECDE center was also sponsored by the then Western Region Christian Community Services, presently known as Anglican Development Organization.
“Alumako Pre-School, being a feeder of Musanda Primary School, I had a golden opportunity to team up with trained ECDE teachers who coached me on thematic approach and lesson plan for four weeks,” Sakwa recalls.
Determined to achieve her ambitious dream of gaining thorough knowledge in early childhood education and eventually becoming an ECDE teacher, she joined a team of ECDE teachers from South Wanga Zone in the former Butere/Mumias District and attended a five-week short course in May 2001.
She passed the exam and was approved to proceed for a long course in May 2003.
Together with her colleagues, they were awarded an Attendance Certificate by a panel from the District Centre for Early Childhood Education (DICECE).
Some of the subject areas covered by the ECDE teachers include Child Development, Health, Nutrition and Care, Pre-School Curriculum, Communication skills, Community Involvement and Pre-School Administration and Management.
Her Attendance Certificate was approved by the Butere/Mumias District Education Officer and Pre-School Programme Officer on October 24, 2003.
Having qualified for an award of an Attendance Certificate, she was among those identified and picked to undertake a two-year certificate course at Kaimosi Early Childhood Teachers Training College in Vihiga county in April 2004.
After completing her two-year course, she later taught at Buhuru ACK Early Childhood Development Centre for four years (2005 to 2008) before shifting to Budalangi constituency, Busia county, where she joined Munani ECD and taught there for three years (2009 to 2011).
She then moved to Seed of Abraham Christian Centre ECD, where she taught for another three years from 2012 to 2014.
Due to public demand, she returned to Munani ECD in 2016 when the local community, school committee and parents, having noted the role she had played in the children’s academic performance, persuaded her to return.
The school management committee would pay her a monthly stipend of at least KSh6,000 for her upkeep.
The most outstanding achievement the volunteer teacher is proud of is that scores of pupils who have passed through the community ECD and are seeking to join class one in various public primary schools usually pass the interview with ease due to the sound basic academic foundation at the learning institution.
“The basic academic foundation at the community ECD has also enabled the pupils to continue performing well in their national exams with majority of them ending up joining various universities and colleges across the country,” says Sakwa.
Apart from reading the charts, the pupils are as well taught how to read simple words and this has made them develop reading culture and skills.
The most notable challenge the teacher has encountered for 15 years is parents’ failure to pay their children’s required school fees.
A majority of them tend to believe that children should learn for free.
This has always put her in an awkward situation, considering that there is no money forthcoming that can be used to buy the required learning materials.
“The situation is worsened by the fact that the county of Busia is only keen in supporting ECD centres at public primary schools leaving community facilities to solve their own problems,” says the ECDE teacher.
Other key challenges include a lack of learning and outdoor activity materials such as ladders.
Inadequacy of desks to accommodate the increasing pupil population, which has reached 60 and swings, among others, is also a lingering problem.
Some of the pupils at the ECD center are orphans who have been left under the care of grandparents and guardians who are themselves too poor to raise the required fees.
This has always compelled the ECDE teacher to have compassion and allow them to be at school.
However, despite volunteering to teach the needy children for 15 years, the county government of Busia County is still yet to consider employing the two teachers who have played a sterling role by utilizing their expertise to inculcate the basic knowledge in the mind of the kids.
During the August 8, 2017 General Election, the two teachers, Sakwa and her colleague Chausiku, had a reprieve when a local politician volunteered to pay them a salary for two months but stopped after failing to clinch the seat.
The county government is only keen on giving jobs to ECD teachers with diplomas and not certificate holders.
Furthering her education
Sakwa, who is determined to pursue her ECD diploma course, is confident she will soon get an employment opportunity that will put her in a better position to put to use her professional experience.
This way, she would continue uplifting and improving the academic status of her pupils for a better future.
In 2022, Budalangi legislator Raphael Wanjala and his NG-CDF committee allocated funds that facilitated the purchase of land to construct a new school, Munani Primary School.
The two volunteer ECDE teachers relocated to the new school.
They teamed up with two ECD teachers deployed by Busia county government under Helda Konde, a former Deputy School Head at St. Carjetan’s Sirimba Catholic Mission Primary School as headteacher.
The new school administration unanimously resolved to bring the two volunteer ECDE teachers on board, considering the role they had played in the administration of the mother learning institution.
The volunteer ECDE teachers expressed confidence saying when the time comes, they will be employed by the county government of Busia.
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“Teaching is a calling. We believe that one day, we shall be engaged by the county government of Busia and posted either in this school or anywhere,” said Chausiku.
She is currently studying for a diploma course in early childhood development education.