Magnitude of the problem
Kibera is a slum area where 80% of its people live below poverty line. Over 75% of the school-age children does not attend school. Those children who do attend school only have access to limited number of non-formal schools, which are not equipped with such facilities as playgrounds, play equipment, and teaching and learning materials. There is a lack of water and sanitation facilities, lack of qualified child handlers and teaching personnel, poor learning atmosphere (both at home and school), and a lack of parental guidance due to ignorance and apathy. The extreme poverty not only makes education inaccessible but has also forced many children to drop out of school. In addition, inadequate nutritional food—both at home and in the schools—hampers the children’s participation in education.
The current schools are too small to accommodate all children from the community, and in most cases the centers have to cope with these constraints by using one classroom where they accommodate and teach all pupils of all class levels en masse. Some threatening cases have emerged where single mothers, who are not able to hire babysitters, dilute alcohol with porridge for their children in order to be able to leave them asleep while they leave the home to seek work. A large number of young girls and single mothers faced with life uncertainty in poverty conditions dump their babies immediately after birth or later. There are cases where children have taken to drugs, especially orphans and those from broken families. It is notable that the slum shares a significant portion of the 1.5 million children orphaned with HIV/AIDS in Kenya.
Formal institutions are non-existent in Kibera, and residents depend almost entirely on non-formal schools provided by churches, NGOs/CBOs, and private entrepreneurs. Together with daycare centers, there are about 70 institutions providing services ranging from day care and pre-school training to primary school. Most of these centers are not able to afford employing trained child handlers (e.g., teachers, cooks, and day care center mothers) and employ untrained teachers and other unskilled child handlers.
Almost all the early childhood development center managers or proprietors have no basic knowledge and skills in the management of those centers for effective childcare services. The centers are also largely unequipped with learning materials and are located in tiny spaces, inadequate for classroom space and play areas..
FAFU is establishing itself to be in a position to facilitate the training of teachers and child handlers in a service course while they continue with their caregiving services to children. The same is planned for center management teams while a role model FAFU ECD resource center is being equipped.
It is significant that majority of the Kibera slum dwellers have organized themselves into several self help groups as an effort to fight poverty.
Need for child development initiatives
Laying a strong foundation in a child’s life shapes the future of that child—and we believe that it is a moral obligation for all members of society to contribute to laying that foundation.
Children in the slum are greatly disadvantaged when it comes to opportunities for growth. Child development initiatives enable them acquire the skills, attitudes, and emotions that make them able to effectively assume adult roles and responsibilities. Children need to have unhindered access to learning opportunities, good health, and compassion from all regardless of their background and socioeconomic conditions.