Problem Militating Against The Development Of Early Childhood Education

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Problem Militating Against The Development Of Early Childhood Education


Abstract


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 to the Study

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 1970. 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.

Chapter Five


Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations

5.0 Introduction

This chapter aims at discussing the findings of the study and give recommendations and suggestions for further research.


5.1 Summary of the Findings

The study aimed at investigating the problems faced in the development of the ECD sector in Nigeria. As brought out in the findings there are quite a number of problems that are faced in the development of the ECD sector in Nigeria. These are as follows

  1. The findings show that the state of physical facilities is wanting at the ECD centers. Most of the centers have temporary structures most of which are in poor condition. This makes the structures uncomfortable for learning. The instructional materials which are important in facilitating learning were not adequate and this impacts negatively on teaching and learning. Other facilities like toilets, water and kitchen which are important for proper health and nutrition were also inadequate
  2. The findings show that the main source of funding for all types of ECD centers is the fees paid by the parents. This leads to lack of adequate funds for providing the necessary resources at the centers since the parents may delay in paying or fail to pay at all. Lack of funds is a major hindrance to the development of ECD.
  3. The study found out that though there is a curriculum guide at the ECD centers most teachers do not use it in teaching. Teachers will mostly teach the basics required to enable the child advance to the next level. The teachers also do not have a specific teaching method.
  4. The staff in the centers studied varies in terms of levels of training and experience. Majority (64.7%) have a certificate in Early Childhood Education with some having no training at all. The findings also show that teachers mostly leave the profession after teaching for six years. This leaves the sector with lowly qualified staff with low experience. This affects the quality of services at the centers.
  5. Other challenges brought out in the study that affect the development of ECD was such as ignorance from parents on the importance of ECD, poverty, poor nutrition and disease. All these problems could lead to students’ absenteeism at the ECD centers.

5.2 Conclusions

From the findings of this study, the followings conclusions can be drawn

  1. There is a serious lack of physical materials and instructional materials at the ECD centers. Though all centers studied had building structures, there were not in good condition that would be favorable for learning. The study shows that most of them (62%) are temporary with the same number in poor condition. As for the furniture, only 23.8% had furniture in good condition. Despite the fact that 95% of the centers had psychomotor materials only in 9.5% of the centers studied were they adequate. Other instructional materials like textbooks, models and charts were also not enough in most centers. Lack of adequate physical facilities and instructional materials makes it impossible to achieve the purpose of Early Childhood Education
  2. Though there was a curriculum guide that should be used in the ECD centers, the study findings show that teachers do not use the guide. Since ECD is viewed as a preparation for primary school, teachers teach what they believe will help the children to advance to the primary level of education thereby ignoring other aspects of growth.
  3. The study findings show that there is a problem of inadequate funds for the management of ECD centers. Most of the ECD centers rely on the fee that is paid by the parents which is either paid late or is never paid at all. This makes it impossible for the managers to provide the resources required at the centers, thereby affecting the provision of services at the ECD centers.
  4. Staffing is also a problem in the development of ECD. The study shows a heavy presence of teachers (64.7%) with certificate level of training with a further 21.6% with no training at all. Also owing to the fact that most teachers are dissatisfied, there is a high turnover of teachers with some leaving the profession after teaching for a few years. This means that there are only a few teachers with experience at the ECD centers. The teachers at the centers have received training from different training providers therefore creating inconsistencies in the skills acquired.

5.3 Recommendations

From the findings and discussions, the following recommendations were made

  1. The government should provide funds at pre-schools to enable them to have good facilities such as classrooms and be able to equip them with relevant facilities.
  2. The government should consider including pre-primary children in the FPE funds. This will guarantee their enrolment in schools and lay a foundation for lifelong education
  3. The Ministry of Basic Education should improve capacity building for those going to handle the children. This will ensure that the ECD teachers will have the necessary skills to handle children of tender age.
  4. The Ministry of Basic Education should improve on the quality of Early Childhood Education by training teachers in ECD at higher qualifications e.g. Diplomas and Degree level.
  5. The government should intervene and come up with a favorable remuneration package for ECD teachers. This will motivate the teachers and make them satisfied to work at the ECD centers.
  6. The ministry should provide terms of service for ECD teachers. The government should provide adequate nutrition since children are growing.
  7. There should be mobilization and sensitization of community and stakeholders on the importance of education at early stages of life. This will enhance positive attitude and perception of ECE.
  8. The Government should ensure adequate supervision and facilitation of preschools. It should develop and implement a monitoring and evaluation system to enhance quality assurance.
  9. The government should standardize training and certification of ECDE teachers in consultation with other partners
  10. The government should undertake regular review of the curriculum to ensure inclusion of emerging issues and alternatives approaches to ECE.

5.4 Suggestions for Further Research

This study entailed a general study of a few ECD centers in Uyo. As such the findings of this study may not be generalized to cover other areas. If this study is to have a wider meaning the following suggestions could be useful for further research.

  1. First a larger study sample to cater for all categories of ECD centers in Nigeria is required. This would identify the nature of the problems and challenges facing pre-schools.
  2. A study of the curriculum offered at the ECD centers should be done. This would identify the contents of the curriculum and find out if it’s relevant to the needs of the pre-scholars.
  3. A similar study needs to be done in any other region in Nigeria on a wider scope on the challenges facing provision of ECE.
  4. A study should be done on Government participation on ECDE
  5. A study should be done on NGO’s and religious Organizations’ participation in ECDE.
  6. A thorough study should be done on source of funds for ECDE

Problem Militating Against The Development Of Early Childhood Education


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