Factors Responsible For Poor Nursery / Primary Education In Nigeria
Early years in life are the most important to the formation of intelligence, personality and social behaviour of a child. The Nursery or Early Childhood Education (ECE) comprises essential programmes and activities which are critical to holistic development, academic success and future achievements of children. ECE is recognized by the federal government of Nigeria as a foundational and essential programme that Nigerian children must experience. Primary education is a foundational level of education that needs to be well funded, controlled and managed. Adequate provisions of education to the citizens contribute greatly to the socioeconomic development of the country. Therefore good administration of primary level of education is required to foster national growth and development. That is why modern societies show serious concern for the education of their young ones by providing needed support to prepare them to succeed later in school (Ejieh, 2006). It is common practice in most societies to make provision for early childhood education programmes of various sorts for children below the official school-going age (usually 6years) mainly to prepare them for education in primary schools (Obidike, 2012). The Federal Government of Nigeria recognizes the importance of early childhood education in Nigeria and as a result it was given prominence in the National Policy of Education ( FRN, 2004) as one of the programmes in the Nigerian educational system. This is why the government has given highly rated attention to it through various interventions that include formulation of policy documents and network of relationships among different sectors. Unfortunately, various challenges are facing the implementation of ECE in Nigeria. This study examines the challenges that are militating against this important early education in pre-primary schools and Primary schools. Some practical ways to overcome the challenges are provided.
1.1 Background of the study
In Nigeria, organized education of the child below primary school age did not receive official recognition until very recently, receive the attention it deserved. The concept of infant schools was introduced in Nigeria by the missionaries in the early 20th century when such schools were set up in the Western and Eastern regions of Nigeria. Early Childhood education in the form of nursery school or pre primary education as we know it today in Nigeria is largely a post colonial development. The semblance of it during the colonial era were the Kindergarten and infant classes, which consisted of groups of children considered not yet ready for primary education. As grouping for instruction in schools was not age based during the period, some children aged six or even more could be found in some of the infant classes (Tor- Anytin, 2008). With the phasing out of infant classes, some parents began to feel the need for nursery schools.
The importance of education to human beings cannot be overemphasized. Globally, education is considered as human right that should be accorded to all human beings, in facts it was the reason why a lot of international human right bodies consider education as a fundamental human right.
Early years in life are widely accepted as the most important period during which children experience cognitive, language, perceptual, socio-emotional and development which they will need for future achievements and social functioning. This informs the reason why the periods of early years need to be handled with all special and detailed attention. Estes (2004) has described the early years as a remarkable period of growth and development in the lives of children. In their submission, Oduolowu and Olowe (2011) noted that the early years of children are years of extreme Vulnerability and tremendous potentials during which adequate protection care and stimulation are essential to procide the foundation for well being and development. In providing this foundation during the early years, Early Childhood Education (ECE) becomes a key actor.
As part of the intervention of the government in ECE, there was enactment of UBE Act (2004) which has an expanded scope that includes programmes and initiatives for early childhood education and development (UNESCO-IBE, 2006) . The UBE programme made provision for every public primary school to have a pre-primary school linkage to cater for children, and this resulted in increased government ownership and participation in ECE provisions (UNESCO-IBE,2006). Osanyin (2012) noted that there was the development of National Minimum Standard for Early Child Care Centers in Nigeria while in the same vein, Oguntuashe (2010) reported the development of curriculum for in service teacher training and IECD caregiver training Manuel. Another notable intervention is the development of a policy referred to as National Policy for Integrated Early Childhood Development that integrates interventions from various sctors to promote an integrated holistic approach to the development of the child (FGN, 2007). One other intervention that worth mentioning is the development of a unified early childhood education curriculum which was all encompassing and divided into two sections to cater for age 0-3 and 3-5 years respectively. All over the world, primary education as been regarded as the most patronized by people. This perhaps may be due to the fact that it is the foundation of the whole educational pursuit, which is expected to provide literary and enlightenment to the citizens ( George, Olayiwola, Adewole and Osabuohien, 2013). The importance of primary education can therefore be seen in the sense that all beneficiaries of the other levels of education by necessity have to pass through this level (Adebayo, 20009). What this means is that primary education, the education given in an institution aged 6-11 years constitute the bedrock upon which the entire education system is built.
According to National Policy on Education (FRN) (2004), Primary Education is the “Education given in institutions for children aged 6-11 years plus” (p.14). This definition is the consonance with the World Bank (2006) definition which stated that, “ Primary Education sometimes referred to as elementary education programmes that are normally designed on a unit or project basis to give pupils a sound basic education in reading writing and mathematics along with an elementary understanding of other sources such as history, geography, natural science, social science, art and music” (p.22-48) which serve to develop pupils’ ability to sustain and use information about the immediate environment and the nation.
The goals of primary education as stated in the National Policy on Education section 4(16) of FRN (2004) is to:
- Inculcate permanent literacy and numeracy skills, and the ability to communicate effectively;
- Lay a sound basis for scientific and reflective thinking;
- Give citizenship education as a basis for effective participation in and contribution to the life of the society;
- Mould the character and develop sound attitude and morals in the child;
- Develop in the child the ability to adapt to his/her changing environment
- Give the child opportunities for developing manipulative skills that will enable him to function effectively in the society within the limits of his/her capacity;
- Provide the child with basic tools for further educational advancement including preparation for trades and craft of the locality.
For any government to achieve goals in Nigeria, requires putting the right peg in the right hole. By this, it becomes imperative for government to put in place all the factors that will facilitate the achievement of these objectives and also ensure their maintains. According to Akale in National Teachers Institute (NTI) (2002) stated that teachers are the most importance resource in education programme. To ensure the best possible quality in the teaching workforce, the policies implemented g=by the government most take into account the interplay of certain critical variables that influence teachers’ career such as pre-service training, recruitment polities, remuneration and continuing education programme. Teachers should be given both local and international scholarship to upgrade and update their knowledge and skills in order to influence change in education. They should be encourage to further the spirit of enquiry and creativity and assisted to fit into the social life of the community and society at large. This will go a long way in realizing the above stated objectives.
On the basis of conventional thought, funding is the most significant challenge with developing North-central education system. Recent development in the educational sectors of the state like Benue, Kogi and Kwara have shown that increased funding is the panacea to North-central educational system. Budgetary allocation to education sector in Benue and Kogi state since 2005-2013 has been grossly inadequate.
There is no doubt that primary education is a panacea for solving problems such as ignorance, illiteracy, religious violence, Insecurity and political servitude. An educated Nigerian is capable of making a more stable, peaceful and prosperous country possible. Plausibly, the Nigerian government has for long known the importance of primary education to national development. The realization of this, among other facts, motivated different governance at different points in a little more than half a century to make primary education free and declare it universal and compulsory. However the strength of primary education lies essentially on what is usually termed basic education with the sole objectives of equipping young people with the tools needed to investigate and inquire, to think, conclude and understand events around them. Therefore, understanding some basic issue in primary education delivery in Nigeria is essential and of great importance to stakeholders.
This study extensively considers factors responsible for poor nursery and primary education delivery in Nigeria and Nasarawa state in particular. It reflects on its functional Importance, structural change, enrolment, funding, infrasture, teaching personal and curriculum issues. In sum, the aim of he paper is to expand the depth of our understanding of the impact of these on primary education delivery in Nigeria.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
According to Egwu (2009), some challenges facing primary education in Nigeria include the huge disparity between expected school enrolment and the actual enrolment figure. This leads to difficulties in accurately planning and allocating human, material and financial resources adequately to the various primary schools in the country.
Education in Nigeria has suffered great setback, double jeopardy and total disconnection due to national strike, political instability, insecurity and all manner of mal-function of institution and the decay of educational standard.
Poor management of information in terms of gathering accurate data, recording and retrieved of data leads to conflicting statistic about the number of enrolled pupils and new applicants in the system. This means that these vital information are not readily available when needed, thereby creating a vacuum for policy makers, stakeholders and researchers to carry out their functions efficiently.
The availability of adequate school building classroom, chairs and other facilities are necessary are also factors affecting the educational system. However the increase in primary school enrolment does not have corresponding increase in infrastructural development in the primary schools. A common scene at the primary schools in Lafia environment is that of half completed or dilapidated and overcrowded classrooms lacking basic equipment and facilities with unsightly and unhygienic toilet.
Most of the schools do not follow the stipulated curriculum processions that are designed for school teaching and learning. At primary level ten subjects are taken. Two of these ten subjects, agriculture and home economics are to be deferred to later years of primary schools.
Teachers still operate under very pathetic conditions such as overcrowded classrooms, wide variations in age and with little or no materials for teaching. Most worry of course is the fact that some of these teachers are still ill equipped to cope with such situations. Teachers need to empowered with skills which will enable them identify their own problems (administrative or pedagogical) seek solutions to these problems.
Funding is another major challenges facing nursery and primary schools in Lafia. Without availability of funds and proper management to carry out any work at the primary level, any plans of transformation are bound to fail. Funding issues in primary education plays a crucial role in determining the level of success, development and change, It also helps to direct attention towards the achievement of set goals at all levels of education. Adequate funding entails a timely supply of funds, qualified teachers, administrators and infrastructural facilities to ensure success in any organization.
It is on these premises and more to be explored in the literature review that has prompted the researcher to carry out this study with the aim of identifying the causes of these problems and proffering useful recommendations.
Similarly, Omotayo, Iheberence and Maduewesi (2008) also indicated that poor implementation strategy management and lack of assurance as responsible factors that contributes to the failure of the UBE to attain its goals since its inception more than 10 years ago. Other predicaments include financial problems in terms of misappropriation and embezzlement of funds and financial crime of all sorts being perpetuated by those in authority.
1.3 Research Questions
The research seeks to find answers to the following research questions:
- Does lack of adequate funding affect the availability of infrastructural facilities in the school?
- What is the relationship between the school teaching curriculum and the standard of education?
- What is the relationship between the availability of teaching materials and teachers output?
- Does over enrollment of pupils affect the quality or standard of education per child?
1.4 Objective of the study
Generally, this study seeks to explore the relationship between primary education standard and the educational development in Nasarawa state.
The specific objectives for this study are;
- To fid out whether lack of funding affects the availability of infrastructural facilities.
- To find out the extent to which non adherence to teaching curriculum affect the standard of education in Nasarawa state.
- To examine if there is a relationship between the availability of teaching material and teachers output.
- To examine the effects of over enrolment of pupils per classroom on each child.
1.5 Research Hypothesis
To proffer useful answers to he research questions and realize the study objectives, the following hypothesis stated in their null forms will be tested;
Ho: Inadequate funding of primary schools does not affect the availability of infrastructural facilities in the school.
Ho: There is no relationship between the school teaching curriculum and the standard of education.
Ho: There is no significant relationship between the availability of teaching materials and teachers output.
Ho: Over enrolment of pupils in a class does not affect the quality or standard of education per child?
1.6 Significant of the study
It is expected that when this study is completed, the result of findings and the dearth of literature review will be an eye opener to the ministry of education on the prevalent standard of education in Nasarawa state. This can also be a useful medium in addressing the present condition of the primary schools not in Lafia but in the whole of Nasarawa state and other states in the federation.
This study will be useful to the state government of Nasarawa state in making decisions as to the allocation of funds to foster educational development within the state.
The outcome of this study will be beneficial to policy makers, government agencies, labor unions, regulatory institutions, students, academic and teachers.
This study will also be useful to the researcher in the pursuant of a post graduate diploma in public administration.
1.7 Scope and Limitation of the Study
This study seeks to investigate the factors responsible for poor nursery and primary education in Nigeria and its effect on the educational development in Nasarawa state. In this research study, emphasis is placed on some selected nursery and primary schools in Lafia local government area, among which includes: Local Government Education Authotity (L.G.E.A) Agyaragu-Tofa, Isamic primary school Lafia. Local Government Education Authority (L.G.E.A) Dunama-Lafia, local government education authority (L.G.E.A) Arikya Roman Catholic Missionaries primary school (R.C.M) Fedama, local government education authority (L.G.E.A) Wakama, St-Tawe primary school Lafia, local government education authority (L.G.E.A) Bukan-Kwato.
1.8 Definition of Operational Terms
The process of training an individual to become an acceptable member of a society. It is also means by which people develop skills, acquire knowledge and improve character through a formal training.
Something used as a test or measurement for quality or for requirement of degree of excellence.
Primary education: Otherwise known as primary or infant education. It does the first introductory school level that young children receive, usually starting from six (6) years and continuing up to Ten(10) Twelve (12) years.
This is the early childhood care and education offered to children who have not yet reached the statuary age of beginning primary school which comprises essential programmes and activities which are critical to holistic development, academic success and future achievement of children.
Curriculum is the summation of systematically planned process of teaching and learning based on the aims and objectives of the educational policy of any country. It is made up of academic or subject based curriculum and non academic or extra curriculum programmies. The primary schools curriculum module is an academic curriculum based on all subjects designed for the primary school level.
Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations
The study revealed that factors militating against nursery and primary educational standard in Nigeria are attributed to lack of school supervision in conformity to standard, poor funding, inadequate resources and facilities for learning, high student/teacher ratio, lack of teacher training, non adherence to curriculum, negligence on the part of the government, among others. This contributed to bad leadership and student’s poor academic development and anti-social behaviour. The study observed that education is the top most instruments and engine for development therefore all the necessary agencies should endeavour to provide adequate facilities for maintenance of our institutions and well being of Nigerian students.
It is the government failure to provide qualitative education as a result of poor management and funding that necessitates increased private ownership of more nursery and primary education system in Nigeria. The intervention of federal government is needed to secure the basic educational system which is the hope of the poor in giving education to their children, from total collapse.
Education is the vital instrument for socials and education mobility at the personal level and as instrument for transformation of the society at the national level. Nursery and Primary education are foundational levels of education that needs to be well funded, controlled and managed. Without mincing words, the management of nursery and primary education is a very big task that needs serious commitment before much could be achieved.
The control and management of nursery and primary school education in Nigeria should be the joint responsibility of both federal and local government. The local government should be involved because it is the government closer to the grassroots with less responsibility on education administration.
There is no doubt that nursery and primary education is very important in Nigeria’s education system because it not only lays a sound foundation for scientific and reflective thinking, but it also serves as the foundation upon which other strata of educational edifice are built. While paying specific attention to selected schools as case study in Lafia local government of Nasarawa state,, this study sought to determine the extent at which several challenges inhibit the standard and effective management of primary schools in Nigeria. Utilizing a self-administered questionnaire, the study found among others, the issue around funding. This study found that poor funding hampered the smooth running of the schools because it inhibits the recruitment of qualified staff, often resulting in acute shortage of staff, which forces most heads of schools to teach some classes in addition to their official workload. A study of this nature presents some benefits in that it indicates some operational and strategic issues which hamper the effective management of primary schools in Nigeria.
The management of primary education in Nigeria has been assigned to various tiers of Governments and commissions. In other words, it has gone through different experimentations. There was a time the primary school teachers throughout the federation embarked on protracted strike action of about 8 months, mainly because of non-payment of their salary and inability to specify where they belong, whether they are employees of Federal, State, or Local Government. The primary school students all over the federation were at home during that period except those who attend private primary schools that did not lose anything. This action nearly destroyed Nigerian primary education (public school). Even now in the present Universal Basic Education programme, the responsibilities of administration and financing primary education are still shared among the three tiers of government. It is very important for the Nigerian government to find a permanent solution to the problem of instability in the control and management of primary school education, therefore the government should be specific in its provision or declare in clear terms the legislative list upon which the control and management of primary education system is placed.
Critically speaking, the performances of the local government in the area of education in Nigeria have been largely below expectations. This assertion also applies to other levels of government in the country, in the course of this study however, some factors were specifically identified as a challenge to local government capacity to promote development.
The achievement of the objective of any programme depends largely on the management of available human and materials resources. The achievement of the primary education objectives in Nigeria depends on the adequate implementation of the primary school curriculum modules which depends on provision of basic facilities and positive supervision of teachers and other school personnel. The UBE may be a mere political point and not educational achievement.
Equally important, the different governments should have and display the needed political will towards the management of primary education. If serious commitment is there, then the governments will improve the funding of education.
There is the need on the part of the different tiers of government to research cooperatively so as to guarantee better financing. This is necessary so as to make provision for the right quantity and quality of teachers and administrative and supportive staff and at the same time expand the physical structures.
A lot would be achieved if the commitment of government were 100%. It would make it possible to engage in serious and genuine preparation of educational policies and implementation of same afterwards. A thorough management of the nursery and primary education system will make it adequately prepared for the challenges of the millennium.
Based on the research findings, the following recommendations are presented:
- Government should introduce more substantive and easily implementable method of proper supervisory allocation of resources in all schools, beginning from the nursery and primary level through the tertiary institutions.
- The purchase and supplies of school equipments or instructional materials should be contracted by professional school administrators and teachers in the areas of interest in order to reduce the under-supply of low quality of equipments. Professionalism and experience should be observed.
- The Education Trust Fund offices and other supportive agencies like the Tertiary Education Training Fund should ensure that the fund supplied for the development of education is judiciously used for the purpose of educational upliftment and the sustainability of the society.
- Proper selection and recruitment of staff, training, payment of salaries and wages, promotion and implementation and other staff welfare should be put into consideration in order to reduce and totally stop the problems of staff industrial actions and students’ demonstration in our Nigerian institutions.
- Government should encourage the establishment of more private universities within the north central part of Nigeria; this would create room for competition among the public and private institutions and would encourage the government to invest more in giving the public institutions the best outlook.
- Modern libraries and laboratories should be established as well as e-library and Information Communication Centers (ICT) that will provide an attractive and stimulating learning environment to meet up the challenges of 21st century.
- Summer learning, student’s visitation and exchange programmes should be instituted and encouraged in our institutions. This will give our students the opportunities to visit other foreign institutions and spend one or two semester in order to interact with other professional colleagues and mentors across the globe.
- The National Assembly should make a law that will abolish all private primary schools, which existence has resulted to the total neglect of public primary schools, all political office holders should not be allowed to send their wards outside the country to school but be compelled to send their children to government public primary schools, all government personnel that is civil servant should have their children schooling in public primary schools and all members of the public should also patronize public primary schools. This will re-direct the attention of the government to do what is right and just to the teachers, lift the standard of the public primary school and build confidence in the people.
- The administration, control and funding of primary education should be put under exclusive list with federal government taking total responsibility over its administration. An agency like TETFUND to be named PEFUND that is primary education fund should be established and all limited liability company in Nigeria should release two per cent (2%) of their profit to a common purse. This money should be used by federal government to run primary education through the primary boards of the various states that makes up Nigeria.
- Monitoring strategy be adopted for the money released to primary education so as to guarantee suitable usage of such funds. It should be noted that a well-planned primary education system, that is well funded may become ineffective through embezzlement, corruption and poor statistical data on enrolment, number of schools and available human and materials resources.
- To successfully implement the UBE Scheme, there is need to develop sound implementation plans. This would have to be preceded by a survey of the existing resources and capacity of the national and local planning structures to implement the plan and monitor progress made in order to detect problem areas and address them at early stage.
- Strategic planning and implementation are essential to the success of the nine (9) year programme and for capacity building in the system, as well as its implementation. Failure in the past cannot be blamed entirely on low levels of funding but also on lack of capacity for planning and implementation at both nationals and local levels. National structure such as the planning division of the Federal Ministry of Education would need to be strengthened to ensure that there is capacity in those structures to monitor implementation plan on the system. The present effort of the Federal Ministry of Education in collaboration with both UNESCO and UNDP on the creation of Education Data Bank is highly commendable.
- There is also the need to set up an institutional capacity building. The school managers should be mandated to attend training workshops and conferences to improve management skills. Effort should also be made to promote gender balance in schools.
- The achievement of the curriculum objectives demands positive coordination of man and material resources through effective supervision. Effective supervisory practice is therefore needed if a teacher in service programme is to be beneficial to all concerned. There should also be an establishment of co-operative curriculum study and development units in schools. Planning-in-service programme such as sandwich Long Distance Learning and Weakened programs for teachers should also be encouraged. Regular inspections of primary schools to confirm regulation in curriculum implementation should also be encouraged.
- Primary school management board should relax some of its policies to allow school heads to function. Provision of adequate and qualified teachers must be a conscious programme of both government and heads of schools. Effective teaching and learning take place with high quality teachers. The government of Nasarawa state should encourage teachers to go for further studies in order to update their knowledge. The school heads should be released from classes so that they can concentrate on administration of their schools. Federal, state and local governments should take the financial problem of primary schools as a matter of great concern. They should provide enough funds to make facilities available in our primary schools. Facilities such as functional school buildings, functional libraries, textbooks and storage facilities should be provided. This can help relieve the problem that comes with pupil over population because the researchers have seen the need to put up additional classrooms and repairs of the existing.
- For the local government to perform its extended role of promoting educational development, the following recommendation is hereby suggested. The revenue base of the local government should be expanded. The current situation where the federal and state government allocate to themselves the most viable revenue and economic base will not encourage local government should strengthened and expand it revenue generation machinery to increase its purse. In addition, absolute autonomy for local government is utopian just as total absence of external control over local government is a myth. While conceding that intervention by state government under certain circumstances would have to be accommodated by the local government, the whole process of intervention must follow the provisions stipulated in the constitution.
- Efforts are also targeted at vulnerable or disadvantaged children through community- driven and home based care and support for young children age 0-3 years supported by UNICEF in 222 focus communities nationwide has boosted access of very vulnerable and disadvantaged children to early childcare and early learning (UNESCO 2007). Launching of the children and AIDS campaign in Nigeria with increased focus, care and attention to children affected by the HIV and AIDS’ scourge. Increased advocacy has been mounted with government and other stakeholders to ensure that young children are fully protected from the scourge of the disease.
- Government should regulate salary of all teachers in early childhood education as well as school fees. The poor salary solely determined by respective exploiters of Early Childhood schools owners scare away many parents in sending their children. Poor salary denies such schools of professional or qualified and dedicated teachers hence children are denied quality education.
- Respective state ministries of education under National supervision should handle the issue of orthographies. Decentralization will be more helpful as respective states will know the mother tongues or the language of immediate environment. More so, Local Government Education Authorities (LGEA) rather than states should assist in the production of textbooks in the spoken language in the area. Regular supervision and monitoring with stiff penalties for offenders will help to maintain the teacher-pupil ratio. This will also help teacher to supervise the learning experience of the play method.
- Effective measures should be ensured in the training of early childhood/pre-primary teachers through adequate scholarships, approving the mounting of such programmes in all Universities, Institutes of Education and College of Education. Moreso, if Nigeria wants to achieve the objectives of education for all, then, there is need for Early Childhood Development to cover children of 0-3years.
- On the issues of corruption, while this is not a peculiar problem to the local government, the issue however needs to b e tackled through proper auditing of local government account, and any local government official that is found wanting should be severely dealt with.
- To successfully ensure the effective role of the local government in educational development, there is need to develop sound implementation plans. This would have to be preceded by a survey of the existing resources and capacity of the national and local planning structures to implement the plan and monitor progress made in order to detect problem areas and address them at an early stage. Strategic planning and implementation are essential to the success of education development and for capacity building in the system as well as for its implementation. Failures in the past cannot be blamed entirely on low levels of funding but also on lack of capacity for planning and implementation at both national and local levels. National structures such as the Planning Division of the Federal Ministry of Education and the local education authority would need to be strengthened to ensure that there is capacity in those structures to monitor the implementation plan as well as to provide assistance to the local structures. In all, however, it is recommended that all office holder in the country should developed a public service ethics of transparency, accountability and a yearning to ensure the provision of public goods other than personal interest.
Factors Responsible For Poor Nursery / Primary Education In Nigeria
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