UNICEF advocates for Early Childhood Education

Temitope Mustapha, Sokoto

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UNICEF has called for scale up of Early Childhood Education ECE, program in Nigeria, saying only one out of three children in the country attends the ECE.

The UN agency said this represents 36 percent of children in Nigeria .

These were made known by UNICEF Education Specialist, Mrs Yetunde Oluwatosin, in Sokoto State, North-West Nigeria during a Two day Media Dialogue jointly organised by UNICEF, Child’s Right Information Bureau and the Federal Ministry of Education, on Early Childhood Education .

According to Mrs. Oluwatosin, Nigeria is not supposed to be doing remedial education but should be spending more on Early Childhood Education to build strong foundational Education system.

She added that childhood education remains a critical period of education that must be consciously built to achieve a resilient National basic education system.

The UNICEF Education Specialist called on Nigerian leaders to be deliberate in growing support for the ECE across the country.

Science has revealed that starting education with the ECE addresses the challenge of foundational learning, it is a play based pre-primary education that remains the bedrock of child development.

“The ECE stimulates child’s domain and it is the foundation that transits children to primary education level.

She disclosed that 10 million Children are not enrolled in ECE in Nigeria, according to the National Personnel Audit of 2018 ,carried out by the Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC.

Early Childhood Education Challenges 

Mrs. Oluwatosin noted that large inequalities persist with 8percent of the poorest children while 78percent of the richest children attend the ECE.

She stated that over 7million learners current enrolled in the ECE centers with 154,000 teachers are in the system.

“Poor sector analysis planning and coordination , inadequate spending on ECE and lack of data on early learning.

She disclosed that UNICEF has developed play based one year pre-primary curriculum in collaboration with the Nigeria Education Research Development Council NERDC and the National Commission for Colleges of Education.

UNICEF Sokoto Chief Of Field Office, Maryam Darwesh Saeed said many children are not currently accessing pre-primary education.

He added that UNICEF is committed to ensuring that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education (SDG 4.2, 2030).

Darwesh called on the media to ensure informed reporting to increase awareness of the critical benefits of Play based ECE in Nigeria.

Inadequate Resources

Unicef Communication Specialist, Dr. Geoffrey Njoku, mentioned inadequate resources and lack of judicious use of available resources as major challenges facing Early Childhood Education in Nigeria.

Media Dialogue

Dr Njoku said the two day dialogue was to advocate for more attention on Early Childhood Education.

“The media dialogue was organised to advocate for more attention on ECE because we see that if Nigeria doesn’t pay attention to the early childhood education the country will face challenges in the technology space as well as in other sectors.”

Country Representative Early Childhood Development Initiative Nigeria ECDI,  Dr Amy Panyi Shalangwa , said there was  need to strengthen early childhood education and strengthen existing curriculum in ECE.

The Sokoto Instance

Presently there are 2000 primary schools in Sokoto State but with only 500 ECE centres.

Dr. Shalangwa stated that the ECDI carried out a research work on strengthening the capacity for play-based learning in Nigeria.

The research revealed that with ECE, there was improved quality of learners, increased schools participation, increased graduation rate as well as stronger economic and societal development.

The media dialogue had over 40 Journalists from print, broadcast and  online media in attendance.

 

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