ASSESSING THE EFFECT OF GOVERNMENT, COMMUNITY AND PRIVATE SECTOR ON EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION
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The purpose of the study was to find out the effect of Government, Community and Private Sector on the Early Childhood Education in Ilorin South Local Government Area of Kwara State. A total of 102 questionnaires were distributed to teachers in six (6) randomly selected primary schools.
Descriptive and influential statistics were used to analyze the data collected.
The finding of the study reveals that, government (at all levels), community and private sector’s, contribution have significant effect on early childhood education in Ilorin South Local Government Area of Kwara State.
Based on this findings, it was recommended that the government should articulate the early child education policy to stakeholders to enhance desirable practices and better commitment to the programme. Also, government, communities and private sectors should ensure that, early childhood education centers have partnerships with parents and accommodate their needs, including good health and general well-being.
1.1 Background of the Study
Early years in life (Ejieh, 2006) are the most important to the formation of intelligence, personality and social behaviour of a child.
That is why, as he emphasized, modern societies show serious concern for the education of their young ones by providing needed support to prepare them to succeed later in school.
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.
Bagudo (2008) posited that reports across the globe revealed that an estimated figure of one hundred million children, struggle daily for survival in villages and cities, and are exposed to the risks of hunger, poverty, disease, illiteracy and abuses.
In support of this view, Mahuta (2007) stresses that the need to address the problems and salvage these children and the next generation of children from these menace, has necessitated the programme of Early Childhood Care Development and Education (ECCDE).
Mahuta (2007) also stated that the aim of ECCDE is to foster the proper development of the children, identify and address their problems, harness their potentials, mould their character, enhance their learning, equip them for life, so that their actions are channelled towards positive personal, communal and global development in all ramifications of life.
A Brief History of Early Childhood Education in Nigeria, shows that organized education of the child below primary school age did not receive official recognition until very recently, when it 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 semblances 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 groping for instruction in schools was not age-based during that period, some children aged six or even more, could be found in some of the infant classes (Tor-Anyiin, 2008). With the phasing out of infant classes, some parents began to feel the need for nursery schools.
During that period, (pre-independence) all efforts for provision of early childhood education were confined to the voluntary sector and received little or no support from the government (Tor- Anyiin, 2008).
It was for the first time in 1977 with the introduction of National Policy on Education by the then military government of Nigeria that the importance and need for early childhood education was given official recognition and linked with the child’s educational performance in primary school.
Gradually, early childhood institution stayed, and by 1985, Nigeria had about 4200 early childhood educational institutions which has grown by 1992 in number, to about 8,300 (Federal Government of Nigeria/UNICEF 1993).
The importance of pre-primary education cannot be overemphasized; it enables children to improve on their self-confidence since they are given opportunity to interact with their peers and adults too.
Pre-primary education enhances independence and helps curb the tendency of children that are highly aggressive during group activities.
Children’s interactions with their peers and adults help to widen their scope of understanding and they also gain mastery of the world around them.
Pre-primary education is vital to the child, parents and society because it permits smooth transition from home to school, because it enables the child to feel free to interact with other people outside his immediate family members.
The pre-primary school helps to sharpen the children’s cognitive domain through learning rhymes and songs; while playing on the slides and swings help in physical development and build their muscles.
Structured play with building blocks and puzzles, baby dolls, and teddy bears helps in emotional development of the children.
At the pre-primary school stage, children learn to share and co-operate with others instead of developing the selfish tendencies.
Exposure to pre-primary education goes a long way to teach each child how to understand and manage their emotions.
The provision of pre-primary education assists working class parents who have no relation or house help to take care of their children while they are at work.
The children will be exposed to reading and writing.
Statistical research has shown that children who have experienced early childhood or pre-primary programs are more likely than other children to remain in primary school and achieve good results (UNESCO, 1995).
Nigeria’s National Policy on Education has made some tremendous achievements in the area of the official recognition of pre-primary level of education in the policy document and this has made it possible for the establishment of pre-primary schools in Nigeria.
This has raised the status of pre-primary education to the lime light and it is no longer a backyard issue.
As rightly stated by Maduewesi (1992) that recognition of the importance of pre-primary education by the federal government has led to a new awareness of the importance of young children as a group requiring and desiring care.
The government stated that it will encourage private efforts in the provision of pre-primary education.
Today private individuals have been allowed to set up nursery schools.
For most children, interior of the home and its immediate surroundings are the first environments they experience throughout their early years.
Young children, spend the majority of their time in the home.
Home environments have been shown to be a major factor that influences the overall development of children.
Within the home, children also have their early interactions with the members of their family, and availability and quality of resources for learning and playing largely determine the nature of these interactions.
Availability of stimulating objects, books and play materials within the home are critical indicators for the overall quality of the home environment.
In the past, research on the physical environment of homes and communities primarily focused on environmental hazards, environmental stress and impacts of poverty.
This body of research strongly indicated that physical aspects of the home such as cleanliness, water, noise and pollution influence the overall health and development of children.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Early childhood education is a type of education provided for children 0-3 years in Day Care Centres and for children 3years to less than 6 years in Nursery schools (Uzodinma & Akinware, 2001).It is a community-based, low-cost project for the holistic development of the child from 0-6 years.
National Association for the Education of Young Children-NAEYC (1991) defines ECE as the education of young children from birth through age eight.
It is a comprehensive approach to policies and programs for children from birth to eight years of age.
The purpose of Early Child Education is to protect the child’s rights to develop his or her full cognitive, emotional, social and physical potentials. It could be at home, a day-care centre, playgroup/crèche, nursery, kindergarten and lower primary.
Osanyin (2012) highlighted other terms often used interchangeably with Early Childhood Education (ECE) which include: Early Childhood Learning (ECL), Early Childhood Care (ECC), Early Childhood Development (ECD), Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE), Early Child Care Development and Education (ECCDE) and Early Care (EC).
According to Wall, Litjens and Taguma (2015), Quality is the most significant factor underlying the degree and the persistence of the impact of early childhood education.
It was noted that international studies have differing perspectives on what constitutes quality, but some common components can be found (OECD, 2012).
Structural quality refers to aspects such as class size, teacher-child ratio, formal staff qualification levels and size of the setting (Anders, 2015), while process quality focuses on the processes in early childhood education settings.
A salient factor affecting process quality is context, and in particular, the interactions a young child experiences with his/her direct environment (Litjens and Taguma, 2010cited in Wall, Litjens and Taguma, 2015), as well as with space and materials (Anders, 2015).
Quality is a relatively value-based concept that is wholly constructed and subjective.
Hence, there is no single model of early childhood education that is effective in all settings.
However, there is a general acceptance that programmes that benefit young children must be of quality that is embedded within their families’ cultures and values (Olaleye, Florence & Omotayo, 2009).
The researcher is therefore out to find the contribution of the government, community and private sector to early childhood education in view of its quality.
1.3 Purpose of the study
The broad objective of this study is to critically examine the effect of the government, community and private sector on early child education in Nigeria, specifically in the geographical location of Ilorin South, Kwara State. The specific objectives are to:
• examine the level at which the early childhood education is being implemented in Ilorin South Local Government Area, Kwara state.
• examine the contributions of government, private sector and community on ECCE in Ilorin South local Government Area, Kwara state.
• examine how the level of Early Childhood Education can be strengthened in Ilorin South Local Government Area, Kwara state.
1.4 Research Questions
The following questions were raised to guide this study:
1) What is the level of early child education in Ilorin South Local Government Area of Kwara State?
2) Does the contribution of government have any significant effect on early childhood education in Ilorin South Local Government Area of Kwara State?
3) Does the contribution of community have any significant effect on early childhood education in Ilorin South Local Government Area of Kwara State?
4) Does the contribution of private sector have any significant effect on early childhood education in Ilorin South Local Government Area of Kwara State?