At least 13,000 Early Childhood Development and Education (ECDE) teachers are set to face a salary cut of more than half as the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) came up with a new salary structure.
In the new structure, an ECDE teacher with college-level qualifications will receive between KSh. 7836 and KSh. 11,467, which will be a massive drop from the current salary of between KSh. 16,890 and 20,800 for job groups between F and L.
The other group that is going to be affected are those in job group H who will lose upto KSh. 9466, which is a 52% cut, with the new salary being KSh. 8804 down from the current KSh. 18,270.
Teachers at the diploma level are also facing the same challenge, whose salaries will now range between KSh. 11,467 and KSh. 19,096 down from the current KSh. 22,270 and KSh. 27,700.
Job group J will suffer the most with a cut of more than 44% from the current salary of KSh.23,310 to KSh. 12,980.
Effects of the salary cut
The decision made by SRC has raised many issues, as teachers, through the Kenya County Government Workers Union (KCGWU), promised to go on strike due to failure to be included in the decision-making.
Pre-primary school teachers play a critical role in the growth of children. They are tasked with the responsibility of nurturing and molding them for a better future.
They take care of these children, making sure they feed well, handling cases related to kids grouped together, trying to make them understand what they have never heard before, and teaching them to read and write for the first time in their life.
They are the ones that mold the toddlers and influence their physical, intellectual, and emotional growth positively. They create an environment where toddlers feel comfortable.
Most ECDE teachers are passionate but it is sad that they are being failed by employers who pay them less, delay their salaries, employ and deploy them under permanent terms, and don’t give them adequate training and materials to teach.
Dr. Teresa Mwoma, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Early Childhood and Special Needs Education, Kenyatta University, tells Scholar Media Africa why high school and primary school teachers receive more salaries than Pre-primary school teachers.
“ECDE teachers are employed by county governments while primary and secondary school teachers are employed by the Teachers Service Commission.
Their salaries are not harmonized because initially, they did not have schemes of service and reference; that’s why the Council of Governors came up with the schemes of service in 2021 where they aligned their grades depending on the training level,” she explained.
Why invest in ECDE?
According to a communication exclusively seen by Scholar Media, which is signed by Dr. Mwoma, the Founder and National Coordinator, ECD Network for Kenya, on the body’s position concerning the salary reduction announcement by SRC, the benefits of investing in children’s education belong to everyone.
“Investing in ECD is good for everyone – governments, businesses, communities, parents and caregivers, and most importantly for children. For children to get quality education, they must be under the care of qualified and well-remunerated teachers,” says the document.
ECD Network for Kenya holds that poor payment of the teachers jeopardizes the country by “…losing good teachers through attrition, and attracting unqualified teachers who are not knowledgeable to teach hence compromising children’s foundation.”
The most critical time to nurture, shape and inspire a healthy, productive, successful future for children is between birth and age eight, with zero to three years being vital for critical brain development.
Investing in early childhood education is one of the most effective methods a country can implement to eradicate extreme poverty.
Dr. Anil Khamis is a Special Advisor to the Provost Aga Khan University, Nairobi, and works across the University’s Institute for Educational Development, Global Health and Development, and Human Development.
According to Dr. Khamis, “Children will be cared for and they grow up to be extremely well adjusted to the environment. Children learn better at school and they are able to study. Aside from studying better there, health is better when they grow old. Children with good early education have lower cases of non- communicable diseases as they grow older”.
Research by Nobel Laureate James Heckman suggests that investment in early childhood development, which includes early years of education, can positively impact children, families and society as a whole.
Early investments can strengthen parents’ job stability and wages and increase children’s later adult earnings.
Children who attend high-quality pre-school programs are less likely to need special education, be arrested, or require social services.
Motivating ECDE teachers
For our children to get quality education, our teachers need to be empowered and motivated from the ECDE level.
This can be done by, firstly, employing more teachers permanently, unlike on contract, which most of the ECDE teachers are working on.
Secondly, teachers should be well paid and paid on time, which will boost their teaching morale.
Thirdly, the national government should work together with county governments to ensure that ECDE teachers and centers and well-funded.
Funding at the ECDE level is currently low; the sector receives only 1.8% of all education funding.
“We are calling the national government through the Ministry of Education to allocate 10% of the education funding to early childhood education enable proper implementation of pre-primary education by recruiting qualified teachers and remunerating them well,” reads ECD Network for Kenya’s communication.
Fourthly, the county government should ensure that policies are formulated and implemented.
“We are therefore calling all County Governments to implement the COG schemes of service in order to attract and retain qualified ECE teachers,” adds the network.
Equally, with children being delicate to deal with, these centers should be built in a conducive environment to boost learning.
Finally, the government should invest in the training of ECDE teachers as most of the money is spent on infrastructure for ECDE centers, as opposed to also allocating it to teaching and support towards the learning of the child.
Early childhood education is not a luxury but a necessity.
The Council of Governors should implement schemes of service in every county to attract qualified ECDE teachers, and the Salaries Remuneration Commission should harmonize salaries for pre-school teachers.
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The Network is also calling the SRC to harmonize salaries for pre-school teachers with those of teachers in primary and secondary.
The National Government, County Governments, the Ministry of Education and all stakeholders should work hand in hand to ensure that they are investing in the training of ECDE teachers.