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PROBLEM MILITATING AGAINST THE DEVELOPMENT OF EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION

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ABSRACT

Education is considered to be a basic human right and a basic need as recognized in the 1989 convention of the rights of the child which has won near universal ratification. Education starts from an early age and this emphasizes the need for a lot of careful planning for Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE). However, this emphasis has not been put in Nigeria’s Early Childhood Education (ECD). This has left ECCE in the hands of private providers and Non-Governmental Organizations without clear guidelines. This has exposed Early Childhood Care and Education to various problems that have hindered its development. To this end, this study aimed at investigating the problems faced in the development of Early Childhood Education in Nigeria. The locale of the study was Uyo. The study sample was drawn from the 81 registered ECD centers in the study location. The researcher selected a sample of 25% of the total number of centers. Sampling methods used was stratified sampling whereby the centers were classified into various categories according to type based on whether private, community or church sponsored. The method of allocation was proportional allocation where 25% of each category was selected. This translated to 11 community ECD centers, 4 private ECD centers and 6 church sponsored centers giving a total of 21 centers. The study considered two types of respondents from the target population i.e. center administrators and the teachers. The administrators of each of the sampled centers were selected for the study giving a total of 21 administrators. The teachers were selected randomly from a population of 216 teachers where 144 teachers were selected. The total sample size from a target population of 297 individuals was 165 respondents which were considered an appropriate sample size according to Krejcie and Morgan (1990). Data was collected using questionnaires for the two types of respondents. An observation schedule was used to collect data on physical facilities and instructional materials. Quantitative data from the field was analyzed using descriptive statistics such as frequencies and percentages. Qualitative data was analyzed by putting the responses under themes consistent with the research objectives.

The major finding was that there was a problem of lack of adequate physical facilities and instructional materials, lack of standardized teaching methods, insufficient funds, inadequate skilled personnel, parents’ ignorance and nutrition and health at the ECD centers. Based on these findings it is recommended that the government provide funds to improve on facilities in the ECD centers and also ensure adequate supervision and facilitation of pre-schools to ensure to enhance quality assurance. The government should come up with favorable terms of service for ECD teachers in order to improve their morale and also standardize training and certification of ECD teachers to ensure consistency of services provided.

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1    Background of the problem

Education is a key phenomenon constituting developing of logistical, motor and knowledge skills as well as potentialities and behavior. Sifuna defines education as a process by which people are prepared to live effectively and efficiently in the physical and social environment (Sifuna, 1990). As observed by participants in the world conference on Education for All (EFA) that took place in Jomtien, Thailand in March 1990, learning begins at birth (UNESCO, 1990). However it would be wrong to say that the emphasis on Early Childhood Care and Education had its origin in that conference. Child rearing was greatly emphasized even in the traditional African Society. This society had an un-institutionalized system of child rearing where by child rearing was the responsibility of the whole family beginning with the mother and extending to other members of the larger family and the community. The family and the whole community had collective responsibility in initiating the child into the values and norms of the society (Kabiru, 1993). The methods of teaching and learning in the traditional setting were normally informal and children learnt as they participated and watched others at work and play. Instructions were given through practical experiences and learnt as they participated in daily activities. This system of Education helped the young ones to learn new skills, ideas and facts of life that would help them to become effective members of the society.

With the passage of time, socio-economic changes the world over have necessitated the development of non-family day-care institutions for children. These socio— economic changes include:

  • The money economy;
  • Urbanization;
  • Growing multiple roles of mothers;
  • Rise in female headed households and
  • Demand for formal education

Pre-school education as an organized affair is barely two hundred years old and began in Alsace in the East of France (Deasy, 1978). From France it spread to England and then to other parts of the world. In Nigeria the pre-schools where first introduced in the large agricultural plantations and in major towns by the colonial government way back in the 1940’s. The schools mainly fulfilled custodial function (Kabiru, 1993). The biggest expansion of ECCE was after independence in response to the call for harambee. This call was with the aim of accelerating education development. Initially the pre-schools were supposed to be custodial, non-teaching institutions. This view was maintained by the government as late as 1970. However, due to the limited academic and professional background, these centers have been gradually made into extensions of the lower primary school in approach and content (Kabiru, 1993). Parents view pre-schooling as an investment to the future success in schooling. The strong demand for pre-school education to give a head-start to young children by parents, communities, welfare organizations and the government has been largely responsible for the rapid expansion of pre-school services in the country. This expansion is in agreement with the Education for All (EFA) goals agreed upon by the participants in the world conference held in Jomtien, Thailand in 1990. A later conference meant to review the declarations of the Jomtien Conference which was held in Dakar, Senegal, came up with strategies to achieve the EFA goals. The participants agreed that to achieve the EFA goals, emphasis must be put on expanding and improving comprehensive early childhood care and education among other strategies. The participants observed that starting from early childhood and extending through life, the learners of the twenty first century will require access to high quality educational opportunities that are responsive to their needs, equitable and gender sensitive (UNESCO, 2000). To ensure quality, all children must be nurtured in a safe and caring environment that will allow them to become healthy, alert and secure and be able to learn. This was a confirmation to the 1990 World Declaration on Education for All which stated that learning begins at birth and encourages the development of early childhood care and education (UNESCO, 2007).

In Nigeria, the government involvement and concern in pre-school education can be traced to the early 1960’s.The legal framework for early childhood education was provided in 1963 when the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Health were authorized by the children’s and young person’s act to inspect pre-schools. In 1966, the Ministry of Co-operatives and Social Services sought assistance from the German Volunteer Services in Nigeria to train day care center personnel. From that same year, the Ministry of Housing and Social Services began to register and supervise all preschools, both community and private in the country. The Ministry also provided supporting curriculum to schools by publishing a manual for pre-school teachers in

  1. In 1980, the responsibility for pre-school was re-assigned from the Ministry of Culture and Social Services to the Ministry of Education. Currently the responsibility for pre-school education is with the Ministry for Basic Education. The responsibilities of the Ministry of Basic Education in regard to pre-school education include;
  • Overall provision of pre-school personnel;
  • Development of curriculum;
  • Registration of pre-schools and
  • Inspection and supervision of pre-school

These responsibilities are to be fulfilled through the National Center for Early Childhood Education (NACECE) supported by a national network of Study location Centers for Early Childhood Education (DICECE).Early childhood services are offered at different levels (see the table 1.1).

 

Table 1.1 Levels of Early Childhood Education offered in Nigeria

Level  Nursery schoolPre-unitKindergartenPlay groupMadrassaHome-

based care center

Age  3-5years5 years2-5years2-5 years2-7 years0-3 years
Location  Rural and  urbanMostly

Urban

Rich

Urban

Rich urbanRural and  urbanUrban slums and

ASALs

Focus  Care and   educationEducationCare and  educationcare and  educationCare and

religious education

Care

 

Source: UNESCO (2005)

However, despite the government involvement, the provision of Early Childhood Education has been left in the hands of the community groups, municipal councils and private sectors. This lack of full Government involvement in the provision of ECE has also hindered effective implementation of its responsibilities in Early Childhood

Education, consequently affecting participation, quality and equity.  This study aimed at investigating the problems or challenges facing the development of Early

Childhood Education in Nigeria.

 

1.2 Statement of the problem

Early Childhood Education and Care has become an important support system to the family in child rearing. It is also important in exposing the child to early life experiences that help the child to cope with complex levels of cognition, emotion, socialization, speech and body movements later in life. However, despite its importance, Early Childhood Education in Nigeria is yet to develop to a level where it will be able to match its importance. There is the problem of untrained teachers, poor facilities among others. To this end, this study was to investigate the problems encountered in the development of Early Childhood Education in Nigeria.

 

1.3 Purpose of the study

The purpose of this study was to investigate the problems encountered in the development of Early Childhood Education with the aim of looking for possible solutions and give recommendations on how the problems can be addressed in order to develop ECD in Nigeria

 

1.4 Objectives

  1. To determine if there is a policy guide on curriculum used in the ECD centers.
  2. To investigate if there are adequate physical facilities and instructional materials in the ECD centers.
  3. To determine if there are standardized instructional methods
  4. To determine the source of funds for ECD centers
  5. To investigate if there is adequate staff in the ECD centers.
  6. To identify the challenges facing the development of the ECD sector.

 

1.5 Research questions

  1. Is there a policy guide on curriculum followed in the ECD centers?
  2. What is the state of physical facilities and instructional materials in the ECD centers?
  3. Are there standardized instructional methods.
  4. What is the source of funds for ECD centers?
  5. Is there adequate staff in the ECD centers
  6. What are the challenges facing the development of the ECD sector?

 

1.6 Rationale for the study

The researcher believes that the findings of this study will bring to the surface the problems that have plagued the development of Early Childhood Education in Nigeria. The results of this study are very beneficial to the policy makers to understand the problems facing the development of the ECD sector and therefore come up with policies that will guide the future of Early Childhood Education in Nigeria. The findings will also benefit the academicians as reference and a basis for further studies in Early Childhood Education.

 

1.7 Assumptions

In the study the following assumptions were made.

  1. All the respondents were to be co-operative and provide reliable responses
  2. The ECD sector is faced with problems and the researcher  was to investigate these problems

 

1.8 Limitations

  1. The study limited itself to only one Study location. For a more conclusive result more Study locations would have been studied. However, this was not possible due to financial constraints.
  2. The study limited itself to the opinions of a sampled population. This is because getting the opinions of the whole population would have required considerable time and other logistics.

 

1.9 Delimitations

  1. The proposed study confined itself to teachers and administrators in the ECD centers who are directly involved in the provision of ECE and are familiar with the every day running of the institutions.

 

1.10 Theoretical Framework

This study was based on Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development (1967). Cognitive Development is that aspect that deals with thinking, problem solving, intelligence and language. Piaget, a writer and psychologist came up with a theory that tried to explain a child’s development. Central to his child development structure is Piaget’s formulation of maturational stages. In his developmental structure, he came up with four stages which he argues that every child has to go through. These stages occur in sequence and each must be negotiated in turn. Each child negotiates each stage at different rates. The differentials in rate of entering and exiting the stages are attributed to differentials in individual’s genetic timetables and in cultural and environmental influences. The stage progression portion of Piaget’s theory has

important implications to learning.

  1. Learning is developmental and no child skips a stage
  2. Individual children may take different experiences to complete their development
  3. Mental Development does not merely click into place with each passing birthday
  4. Learning differs in capability, probably due to variations in their physical and mental experiences. In the light of this children in the ECD centers should be treated as unique individuals. The experiences that they are exposed to should also be relevant to the stage of development the child is in so that they assist in their development.

Piaget’s stages of cognitive development are as follows:

  1. Sensori-Motor Stage (birth to 2years). In this stage the child learns through his senses i.e. eyes, ears, nose, skin, and through his bodily movements. Children at this stage react on things that are present to the environment. They only think of objects they can see.
  2. Pre-operational stage (2yrs-7yrs). This stage is marked by the appearance of language and symbolic functions. The child can use symbols and can judge on the basic of appearance but cannot perform mental operations such as reversibility. At this stage the child learns through imitation and only looks at things from their own perspective. The pre-operational stage is characterized by two stages:
  • Pre- operational stage (2-4yrs); as children begin to symbolize their environment and develop the ability to internalize objects and events, they first develop premature objects which Piaget called Pre- Concepts. The child’s reasoning at this stage is of two kinds; syncretic and transductive. In syncretic reasoning, the pre-scholar is able to classify objects using limited and changing criteria for sort, example and color. In transductive reasoning, the pre- scholar is able to identify cause and effect relationships that link two specific events that occur close together. In this kind of reasoning, the child also believes that inanimate objects are alive.
  • Intuitive Stage (4-7yrs); In this stage, the children’s beliefs are generally based on what they sense to be true rather that what logic or rational thought would dictate. Pre-schoolers fall in this stage and it is this children’s education that this study is concerned about.

Among Piaget’s contribution to Early Childhood Education is the recognition that the child’s thinking process and problem solving is quite different from that of the adults and older children. From his theory; it is clear that a previous intelligence is a form of adaptation to the environment. To Piaget, knowledge is not static but continues to grow. As a child interacts with the environment, he forms mental structures that Piaget called schemata. Each new experience brings new schemata and helps the child to modify the old one.

Understanding a child’s development is important in planning for their education.

This is because as brought out in Piaget’s theory, a child’s interaction with the environment has a serious effect on his cognitive development. It is therefore important in the planning for Early Childhood Care and Education to consider the kind of environment that is desired to ensure the effectiveness of Early Childhood Education. This study aimed at investigating the problems that pose challenges to creation of such an environment and this theory served as a basis of the study.

 

Figure 1.1Conceptual framework

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