What you need to know:
- Kenyatta University Women Economic Empowerment hub has partnered with Tharaka Nithi County on research into the impact of crèches on child development.
- The study, financed by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is also aimed at establishing the economic empowerment gain for women if their children are taken to school early.
Kenyatta University Women Economic Empowerment (KU-WEE) hub has partnered with Tharaka Nithi County on research into the impact of crèches on child development.
A crèche is a nursery where babies and young children are cared for during the working day. Feeding and play areas, as well as lactation rooms, allow mothers to continue with their economic activities while conveniently and comfortably attending to their children without going back home or having to employ a babysitter.
In Kenya, children join Pre-Primary One at the age of four, meaning their mothers have to babysit them for the four years and that is time-consuming if they have other engagements, especially economic activities.
The research, financed by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is also aimed at establishing the economic empowerment gain for women if their children are taken to school early.
The partnership also includes Yale University, the University of West Indies, Bangor University and the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.
During a meeting in Chuka town yesterday, KU-WEE hub leader Judith Waudo said the study is generally aimed at influencing government policies to improve the welfare of children and their mothers.
She said early childhood development experts have come up with a syllabus to guide caregivers, adding that there will be intensive and continuous monitoring and evaluation of the exercise.
“The primary outcome of the study is the improvement of women's economic productivity or wellbeing by reducing the childcare burden. It will form the basis on which decisions are made and policies formulated,” said Prof Waudo.
She added that if the research establishes that three-year-olds can be comfortably and gainfully in school and that there is an economic gain for their mothers, then they will recommend that the government adopt the crèche programme.
Tharaka Nithi Governor Muthomi Njuki said the research will be rolled out soon in 60 public primary schools identified from Tharaka, Maara and Chuka/Igambang’ombe constituencies and will take two years.
He said the pilot programme will also create job opportunities for 60 early childhood development and education caregivers, 12 assessors and the project manager who will also be absorbed into the county government at the end.
Mr Njuki said the county will provide the infrastructure that will house the crèche and come up with a feeding programme in collaboration with the partners. He urged parents to cooperate and present their children.
“Our county has been considered for this research because we already have several women empowerment programmes, including a crèche at Chuka open-air-market, which has been of great help to the business women,” he said.
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