Providing quality childcare

The Jacobs Foundation presents the Klaus J. Jacobs Prizes every two years to trailblazers who are seeking to find evidence-based solutions for education’s greatest challenges. Annie Brookman Byrne, in this series of interviews, meets the 2022 award finalists. In part 8, Annie speaks to Sabrina Habib from Kidogo, Kenya.

Annie Brookman Byrne: What are the greatest challenges facing childcare in Kenya today?

Sabrina Habib: Two. There are two problems for working mothers. Working mothers may leave their babies home alone. They may take an older child out of school in order to care for the baby. This daughter may never return. They may also leave the child in a daycare that is untrained and unsafe. These children cannot reach their full potential due to a lack of nutrition and stimulation. Mothers are unable to work because they worry about their children.

There is also a lack of policy and funding for childcare. Currently, there are no policies or regulations in this field. There are no regulations or procedures in this area. Children are left in unhealthy conditions as a result. Kidogo’s service delivery and advocacy efforts are aimed at addressing the lack of government funding, market regulations, and local challenges that result from these issues.

I envision a future in which children from low-income families are able, in their early childhood, to lay a solid foundation that will allow them to achieve their full potential, ultimately becoming happier, healthier, and wealthier than they were before.

ABB: How do you see the future of children?

SH: I imagine a world where children from low-income families are able, in their early childhood, to lay a solid foundation that will allow them to achieve their full potential, ultimately becoming happier, healthier, and wealthier than they were before. I also want to see “peace-of-mind” become the norm for all working mothers around the globe.

ABB: How can these problems be addressed in Kenya?

SH: As a newly-minted mom, I often reflect on the notion that “it takes village to raise a kid”. It will also take a village in order to solve these problems. We need progressive policies from the government, not punitive ones, as well as financing and subsidies, especially for the poorest of the poor who can’t afford to pay the full price of quality health care.

The private sector should support family-friendly workplaces by offering quality childcare. This increases women’s productivity and helps businesses’ bottom lines.

When children receive early learning opportunities and physical, social, and cognitive stimulation, they can meet their developmental milestones and will enter primary school with strong foundations.

Researchers must gather evidence about what works and what doesn’t. The accreditation of childcare workers by universities and colleges is necessary to make their profession an honorable one.

Media also play an important role in communicating to the public the importance of early childhood development for learning and child development. Parents and communities who believe children begin learning at three years old – as many do – will conclude that the activities in childcare centers are not important. They are satisfied as long as the children they pick up look the same as they did when they left them in the morning. We need to launch a global campaign in the media to explain why this early period is so important.

We need a social enterprise that is embedded in the community and that can produce innovative innovations that can scale up.

We need to find funders to help us make this all happen, especially when the private or public sector is not willing to risk it.

ABB: What is Kidogo doing to help tackle the childcare crisis in Kenya?

ABB: How would you like to be taught by other Best Practice Prize finalists?

SH: We all work in broken systems. We would love to talk to other finalists about how they’re working to fix broken systems outside of their organizations and what their roles are in doing so.

Sabrina Habib serves as the Chief Exploration Officer and Co-Founder of Kidogo, Kenya’s leading childcare network. Kidogo gives low-income families greater access to affordable, quality early childhood education and care by providing women (Mamapreneurs) with the skills and knowledge to start and grow their childcare micro-businesses. Sabrina has a Master’s of Public Administration degree from Columbia University and an Executive Education Certificate from Harvard University in Leading and scaling Early Childhood Initiatives. Kidogo has received recognition from numerous publications, including The Economist and Forbes, as well as The Guardian and ELLE.


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