Author Archive

Education for Sustainable Development and Climate Change

July 21, 2015

“Let us put aside what divides us and overcome narrow self-interest in favor of working together for the common well-being of humanity.” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

The Notre Dame Global Adaption Index identifies Kenya as one of the 25 countries most at risk from the global climate changes that are being caused by the excess carbon emissions of economically developed countries. With more economic development people have used more cars and other forms of transport, and the products used in homes and produced in factories have consumed energy which has traditionally been produced from burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas. Historically, economic growth and growth in global carbon emissions have gone hand in hand.

But Kenya needs economic growth for sustainable development , our population needs employment, and our children need better health and education provisions.

The time has now come to break the link between economic growth and the growth in carbon emissions around the world, we need to find alternative energy sources and better ways of living with the natural world and environment. But that isn’t going to be enough for Kenya. The United Nations global plan is referred to as ‘Convergence and Contraction’, where the overall objective is to reduce carbon emissions from the current global average of 5.0 Tonnes per person a year, to 2.0 Tonnes per person by 2050. That means that with a current average Kenyan carbon footprint of about 0.3 tonnes we have significant scope for increases, and with the development of alternative energy sources like the new wind power generation scheme even more can, and is beginning to be done at a national level to help. Our ‘carbon partnership’ between preschools in Kenya and the UK have also been developed to support these changes. As a significant aspect of their Education for Sustainable Development  children in the UK are learning from our good examples of tree planting, recycling materials and wildlife conservation in Kenya. The UK-Kenya preschool partnership supports a fair and equal dialogue and we are also learning from some of best practices of the UK partner preschools. Some of our success stories are also attracting international interest (Siraj-Blatchford and Pramling-Samuelsson, 2014, UNESCO, 2014):


Emergent Literacy in Early Childhood

March 6, 2015

87% of Kenyans can read. In Zimbabwe more than 90% can read. In the UK, adult literacy is 99%, and in many countries around the world, including Cuba, Finland and Norway adult literacy is very close to 100%. How can we do better?

Where people don’t learn to read there are mostly two reasons:

1. They are not taught

        – that is why less Kenyan woman can read than Kenyan men.

2. They are taught badly

Reading is not just sounding out words

You can’t teach a child to read just by teaching them the letter sounds

 What you need to know if you are to teach children to read:

Information doesn’t just go from the text on the page through the eyes and into the brain. When we read it is a two way process, we use our brains to read. That means motivation is important; we have to want to read, and we have to believe that we can read. When we read we can sometimes use letter sounds to ‘decode’ a word in text. But we use many other important strategies to recognise words in reading. In preschools we need to support children in their use of all of these strategies and not just through teaching them letter sounds.

This is what researchers have found when they studied eye movements in the process of reading. We typically follow the red arrows – we don’t ‘read’ the letter sounds – we don’t even look at each word – we work out what it says as we go along… We look for meaning in the text.


We typically skip over 15% of all content words (nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs) and 65% of all function words (prepositions, conjunctions, articles, and pronouns (Paulson and Freeman, 2003).

What is good preschool practice?

Children need to want to read…

  • Read aloud to the children every day, and talk with them about the books.

We need picture story books to read to them so that they learn how much fun reading is.

We need to use information/reference texts with children so that they can see that we continue all our lives to learn through reading

Children need to believe they will be able to read…

  • Children need to see the adults around them reading so that they develop the expectation that they will read as well
  • Provide and refer often to signs showing the names of plants in the environment, classroom resources and the materials things are made from

Children need to hear most of the words used in a text before they read them.

  • We need to talk with children more so that they are introduced to new words and ideas before they find them in print.
  • Engage children in conversations about what is happening in the community and environment around them
  • Listen and respond to what they have to say.

This is why it is always better to teach children to read in their mother tongue (or home) language.

Children should learn to enjoy the sounds of language

  • Introduce them to rhymes – identify words that end with the same sound
  • Enjoy alliteration – when several words begin with the same sound
  • Match sounds – play a game with pictures – which of these words begins with a ‘d’ sound?

Play with the alphabet

  • Use blocks, cards and puzzle games
  • Start with the letters significant to the children – “Look Wambui’s and Wanjiru’s names start with the same letter ‘W’

Support emergent writing

  • Encourage children to scribble and ‘play’ at writing – write with pencils, charcoal, chalk, sticks in the dust
  • Teach the children to form the letters of their name

Notes prepared by Mercy Macharia and Professor John Siraj-Blatchford


Nursery Rhymes and songs

One, two, three, four, five, Once I caught a fish alive, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, Then I let it go again. Why did you let it go? Because it bit my finger so. Which finger did it bite? This little finger on the right.

Ukuti, Ukuti Wa mnazi, Wa mnazi, Ukipata Upepo Watete.. Watete.. Watetemeka..

Namba moja, mbili, Tatu, nne, tano. Hesabuni tena!

Nani mganga Tausi, Kalimanjila – La Lala salama – Ma Mama mzazi – zi Zizi la ng’ombe – mbe Mbele ya nyumba – mba …


  • Fine feathered friends
  • Meenie miney moe
  • Wee Willie Winkie

Make up a meal with the children using alliteration words: “tasty tomatoes”, “leafy lettuce”, “mixed up maize”, “pasty pilau”, “ugly ugali”, “chilli choma”, “sausage stew” and “chapatti chai”. 


Bats conservation and learning through making things

February 15, 2015

Nakuru West preschool in Kenya together with their UK partner Sunbeam preschool joined together in an education for sustainable development project on bat conservation and learning through making things. The children learnt about bats by making bat models using recycled materials.

As an introduction to the project, the children at Sunbeams preschool sent a cuddly toy bat to Kenya together with a picture story book about bats.

This was received by Nakuru West children and their teachers:

teachers-bat bat photo

Nakuru West preschool decided to join their partner friends in making bats using locally available materials which included charcoal for black colour, papers for wings, and cardboards from toilet rolls for bats body, sticks, strings, and blunt pins.

Snapshot 3

They also made a makeshift house for the bats.

Snapshot 8

As they carried out the activity, the teachers engaged in a dialogue with the children who learnt how bats cuddle together and hang upside down in their houses during the day as they sleep, and go out during the night to eat mosquitoes and moths. The children said they were happy to learn about the bats and how important they are to their lives. As long as the bats eat mosquitoes children will not get sick together with their siblings who are at home, thus they will always be happy healthy and able to attend school. Children also learnt how good it is for them to make sure they protect the environment and the bat habitats. They learnt a song about the bats, the song had numeracy and they sang counting about how bats went out one day and what would happened to them.

The teachers too were happy to learn more about the bats and decided to work together and to keep reminding the children about the bats. After we carried out the bat making activity each child was given an opportunity to go and put his or her made bat in the makeshift habitat.

Snapshot 9

The children were happy to learn that bats sleep while facing upside down. It was a very interesting activity and the children said they would look to see the bats and see if they are eating mosquitoes.

The teachers also learnt that it is important to make things out of recycled materials for teaching and also ensuring that children are fully engaged in the manipulation of such materials to have a clear view of what it entails.

Reported by Cecilia Wangui.


Affordable, Quality Pre-Primary Education for All

December 14, 2014

Kenya_Country team group_Zanzibar

On 24 November 2014, OMEP Kenya contributed to a high level  eastern and southern African regional workshop on National Planning for Quality Affordable Pre-Primary Education in Zanzibar. The four day workshop was organized by UNICEF, the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) Secretariat, the World Bank, and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and it was implemented by Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). Cecilia Wangui, our acting president (3rd from the right in this photo of the full Kenya delegation) will be reporting on the event at the AGM to be held on 15th December in Nakuru. For further details see the OMEP Kenya website or contact the secretary

The workshop was opened by Zanzibar’s First Vice President H.E. Seif Sharif Hamad and it was attended by delegates from 14 African countries and experts from all of the major NGOs and agencies working in the region.

The workshop speakers included Professor John Siraj-Blatchford (UK), Professor Robert Serpell (Zambia), Dr Aglaia Zafeirakou (GPE), Sara Poehlman and Bonita Birungi (Save the Children), Najma Rashid, Amina Mwitu and Sultana Karama (Aga Khan Foundation), Alemu Adane (Addis Development Vision) and Argaw Menelik Desta (School Readiness Initiative), Patience Awopegba (UNESCO-IICBA), Francis Chalamanda (Malawi), Amanda Epstein Devercelli and Alexandra Solano Rocha (World Bank).

The workshop concluded with a ‘Call to Action on Quality, Affordable Pre-Primary Education’:

1. To increase access for girls and boys to quality ECCE, including at least one year of free and compulsory pre-primary education, with particular focus on the most marginalized children.

2. To increase international and domestic investment in ECCE for Global Partnership for Education countries.

3. To promote new and innovative partnerships that:
– Leverage investments in ECCE from public and private partners;
– Improve the availability and delivery of quality ECCE services.

4. To strengthen the evidence-base of effective and quality ECCE programming and the development of ECCE indicators that support countries to monitor children’s readiness to learn, the quality of learning environments.

5. To ensure the inclusion of ECCE in the post-2015 development agenda and in the Global Partnership for Education’s next Strategic Plan through:
– The inclusion of a post-2015 target on ECCE, supported by appropriate indicators, under an education post-2015 goal.
– The integration of ECCE as a cross-cutting issue in other post-2015 development goals related to child development.
– The inclusion of ECCE as a Strategic Priority in the Global Partnerships for Education’s 2015-2018 Strategic Plan.

OMEP Awards for Equality for Sustainability

July 12, 2014

imageMercy Macharia receiving her award at the 2014 World Conference from Professor Ingrid Pramling Samuelsson UNESCO Chair in Education for Sustainable Development

13 countries participated in the 2014 competition, submitting a total of 87projects concerned with:

  • Socio-economic inequality and poverty
  • Special needs and disability
  • Social Injustice
  • Gender
  • Ethnicity
  • Indigenous peoplesThe winning entries were:
  • “Children’s ideas about families’ access to food from a perspective of wealth and poverty” – Dr Libby-Lee Hammond, Dr Sandra Hesterman, Dr Marianne Knaus and Mrs Mary Vajda (Australia)
  • Protección de la Madre Tierra” (Protecting Mother Earth) – Jocelyn Uribe and Verónica Romo (Chile)
  • Matarajio’: Gender equality in Kenya” – Mercy Murugi Macharia (Kenya)
  • “All the children of the world” – Jarmila Sobotova (Slovak Republic)

OMEP UK-Kenya Preschool Partnerships Update

December 3, 2013

A World OMEP initiative to develop partnerships between preschools in the global North and the global South was launched in 2012. This project has been initially piloted between preschool in the UK and in Kenya and there have been notable successes:

The biggest challenge for the UK/Kenya preschool partnerships has been communications, cuddly toys were exchanged between most of the 32 preschools but there have been problems with freight (shipping resources), and also sometimes with the relatively high staff turnover in Kenya. OMEP Kenya have therefore decided they want to add another dimension to the project. The proposal is to develop the project further by promoting preschool ‘teacher in training’ partnerships, rather than just relying on institutional pre-school partnerships. They feel that an advantage of this approach will be that the younger generation of preschool teachers in Kenya are more computer literate (many already use e.g. facebook). The Kenyan students (ITE and CPD) also spend a lot of time in the classroom so there will be good opportunities for developing classroom activities together from the start, and it is hoped that the partnerships will continue when they finish training. It is intended that the project will be launched with events focused around the UN World Day of Social Justice on February 20th – the chosen focus is going to be gender equality and the promotion of positive female role models in the UK and Kenya.

The project is at an early stage but you can see what has been done so far at:

Also note:

UK-Kenya Preschool Partnership: Dorchester Meeting

January 14, 2013

A meeting of the UK preschool partners took place in Dorchester on 14.01.2013



32 Dorset preschools are now partners with 32 preschools in Kenya. Some are already contacting each other via text messaging and posting pictures on their partnership project blogs.

Edited Powerpoint

Gordon Brown is the new UN Envoy for Global Education

July 14, 2012


Former prime minister Gordon Brown is to become a global education envoy for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Gordon Brown, was the UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time the Millennium Development Goals were agreed and provided strong leadership on development at the G8 Summit of the rich nations in 2005. In recent years he has often called for renewed efforts and bitterly complained about the failure of rich nations to honour their pledges. In a meeting of MPs in 2010 he spoke of a “lost decade for development” and when he was asked whether the targets were too ambitious to be realistically met he responded passionately, arguing: “To say that every child should be at school by 2015 is not an ambitious target… but a natural right of individuals. “It is a matter of necessity.”

As Chancellor of the Exchequer in 2004, Gordon Brown argued that:

‘While the nineteenth century was distinguished by the introduction of primary education for all and the twentieth century by the introduction of secondary education for all, so the early part of the twenty first century should be marked by the introduction of pre-school provision for the under fives and childcare available to all’ (Her Majesty’s Treasury, 2004).

He will now have the opportunity to ensure that Pre-school provisions are included in the global Sustainable Development Goals that are set to replace the MDGs after 2015. The evidence for the cost effectiveness of early childhood education is much greater today than it was in 2004. But he may still need reminding of his personal commitment. You can write to him at:

Gordon Brown MP, Carlyle House, Carlyle Road, Kirkcaldy, KY1 1DB. UK

See also:

Picture shows Prime Minister Gordon Brown chats to children and staff at Aughton Early Years Sure Start Centre .



Ready for School?

October 2, 2011

The issue of school readiness is highly controversial one in the prosperous global north but it is worth sparing a thought for the day to day realities of a majority of the world’s children. Since the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Article 29, 1) most of the nations of the world have agreed that all children have a right to education. But the education of children doesn’t begin when they start school, and it is important to recognise that the Right to education should extend to all children regardless of age. Global Handwashing Day 2011 on 15 October provides a good opportunity to show your commitment to the principle.

In 2010, over 200 million people were involved and over 700,000 schools celebrated Global Handwashing Day. This year we can do even better.
Planners Guide

Sustainable Societies: Responsible Citizens

September 24, 2011

In September 2011 OMEP delegates participated in the 64th Annual UN DPI/NGO Conference in Bonn entitled Sustainable Societies: Responsible Citizens. OMEP provided an exhibition, distributed copies of Education for Sustainable Development in the Early Years and presented the case for Early Childhood involvement in various workshops. This was a significant UN initiative organised in preparation for the coming Earth Summit Rio+20 in 2012.

The Conference called upon governments in accordance with human rights, the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, and respective capabilities to adopt 17 Sustainable Development Goals: These included the aim:

By 2030, national governments reorient all national aims and objectives towards achieving sustainable societies and will mainstream sustainable development into all national educational policies and curricula.
Sights and Sounds
Archived Webcast