Influence of finance on mainstreaming support for orphans and vulnerable children in public nursery schools in Nyeri central district, Kenya
Orphaned and Vulnerable Children (OVC) below 8 years represent an extremely vulnerable population due to growing levels of poverty, HIV/AIDS and socio-economic situation in which they find themselves in. For this reason Public Nursery Schools (PNS) are receiving greater attention as places to remedy the decline of family and community based support for OVC as schools provide appropriate channels through which essential services such as food, healthcare, clothing, education and psychosocial support are provided. Though the goal of expanding Early Childhood Education (ECE) opportunity for all children is integrated into a number of global initiatives such as Education for All (EFA) and Millennium Development Goals (MDG), PNS face the burden of fewer resources as the support systems for OVC such as school feeding, health and nutritional care and psychosocial support are extremely linked to Education Finance. Steady provision of funding at government as well as family and community level ensures that PNS improve the wellbeing and learning outcomes through whole school interventions for OVC. By contrast, deprivation of interventions during the early years results in lifelong deficiencies and disadvantages. The purpose of this study was to find out the influence of finance on mainstreaming support for OVC in PNS in Nyeri Central district in relation to how the different types of financing mechanisms, availability, adequacy and allocation of funds influences mainstreaming support for OVC in Nyeri Central district. Nyeri Central district has a total of 36,190 poor households with 4,261 households with more than two OVC. The study employed a descriptive survey design with a sample of 19 public nursery schools stratified into 9 schools in the Northern zone and 10 in the Southern zone. Data was collected through questionnaires for head teachers and a nursery school teacher for each school. An interview was conducted with the District Centre for Early Childhood Education (DICECE) programme officer of the district under study. Data was analyzed using both qualitative and quantative techniques and presented in form of frequency distribution tables, bar graphs and narrative. The study found out that the main source of funding for the PNS came from parents and well wishers. There being no reliable funding for OVC, mainstreaming support for OVC was compromised as source of funds were inadequate for OVC support, capacity building for teachers and retention of OVC in schools through subsidized fees and bursary funds. OVC support was hidden in other programmatic areas resulting in very little funds being allocated to support systems for OVC. To avert this crisis, the study recommends that the government should intensify support for OVC through increased budgetary allocation and setting up funds earmarked for OVC in PNS. In addition to this, management of PNS should look for alternative sources of funds to secure more and reliable funding for OVC support.