SPEECH BY H.E. CORNEL RASANGA AMOTH, EGH, GOVERNOR, COUNTY GOVERNMENT OF SIAYA, DURING THE OFFICIAL OPENING CEREMONY OF THE 4TH ECD NATIONAL CONFERENCE AT JARAMOGI OGINGA ODINGA UNIVERSITY OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, BONDO, SIAYA COUNTY ON 25TH OCTOBER 2021
The Country Rep. UNICEF Kenya, Madam Maniza Zaman,
The National Coordinator, ECD Network for Kenya and Executive Director, African Council for Distance Education, Dr. Teresa Mwoma,
The Vice Chancellor, JOOUST, Honorable Speaker,
County Commissioner, Siaya
The Board of Directors, ECD Network for Kenya, Political Leaders Present,
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
1. I take this opportunity to thank the organizers of the 4th National Early Child Development Conference for choosing Siaya County to host this important function.
2. I welcome all participants to the County and encourage you to enjoy our warm hospitality and sample the best of our culture while you are here.
3. For those visiting Siaya for the first time, let me share with you a few demographics of the County.
4. Siaya County has a land surface area of 2,530 Kilometers squared with six sub counties and 30 administrative wards. The County has a population of 993,165 according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, 2018
5. The County has about 250,698 Households of which 238,359 are women of reproductive age.
6. The County has 182,669 children who are below 5 years. Of these, 90,000 are in 1,081 Early Childhood Development Education Centers to provide education for this important segment of our population. It is notable that the County Government of Siaya has constructed 348 of these ECDE Centers.
7. Investing in Early Childhood Development has been a key priority of my Government since the advent of devolution in 2013.
8. Initially, our investments in the sector focused on construction and renovation of health facilities to increase access to Maternal and Child Health Services.
9. We later graduated to the construction and equipment of preschool centers and recruitment of Preschool Teachers. We also scaled up the school feeding program and improved road networks among other child sensitive investments to help increase access to early childhood learning among our children.
10. Reviews from anecdotal data sources revealed in 2017 that despite investments to improve childhood development and reduce child mortality, there were still minimal gains being made. It is for this reason, my team reached out to Hilton Foundation for support to institute robust and holistic Early Childhood Development Initiatives for age 0 – 8 years.
11. In April 2018, I was part of a team which went to Harvard University to learn about leading and scaling early childhood initiatives. Since then, there has been an increased momentum in scaling up nurturing care in Siaya County.
12. We thereafter launched the Scale Up of Nurturing Care for Early Childhood Development as a flagship program within the County spearheaded by Her Excellency The First Lady Mama Rosella Rasanga.
13. We trained and sensitized Siaya Leaders across the County on the Science of Early Childhood Development apart from establishing an all-inclusive Government Led Early Childhood Development Multi-sectoral Coordinating Committee.
14. My Government also approved a policy entrenching ECD programs in Government activities.
15. To ensure sustainability of our efforts, we have anchored Nurturing Care for Early Childhood Development in the Siaya County Health Act, 2020 and are currently drafting a Nurturing Care for Early Childhood Development policy document to include the school feeding program.
16. Further, my government has built the capacity of frontline Healthcare Workers, Community Health Volunteers and Preschool teachers on Early Childhood Development.
17. It is also notable that we have envisioned Nurturing Care for the next five years through the Nurturing Care for ECD Strategic Plan (2020 – 2025).
18. In addition to over 600 ECDE instructors recruited so far, we plan to recruit a further 200 to enhance our previous efforts. We are also enhancing the equipping and provision of teaching and learning materials and indoor and outdoor play equipment in all our ECDs.
19. I commit to continue prioritizing investments towards ensuring that all children in Siaya County not only survive but also thrive and realize their full potential. We welcome and appreciate the support of our partners in this regard.
20. I further commit that My Government, through collaboration with supporting partners, will take lead in supporting other Counties to scale up ECD in Kenya, beginning with The Lake Region Economic Bloc. We will use any available opportunity including the national platform of the Council of Governors to ensure that all children in Kenya develop to their full potential.
21. I will continue building on the gains made so far to prioritize investments in ECD to enable Siaya County regain its glory of being the source of academic heroes and become the model County. We will be a living University of Early Childhood Development Initiatives.
22. On behalf of the County Government of Siaya, I would like to extend our appreciation to key partners that have ensured the success of early childhood development programming in Siaya in particular, UNICEF, Hilton Foundation, PATH, KMET, ChildFund, Catholic Relief Services, and Agha Khan University among others.
23. Once more, I take this opportunity to thank Early Childhood Network and the organizers of the 4th National ECD Conference for choosing to hold the Conference in Siaya County despite the prevailing COVID-19 challenges.
H.E. CORNEL RASANGA AMOTH, EGH, GOVERNOR, COUNTY GOVERNMENT OF SIAYA