Check out possible solutions to the problems of early childhood education in Nigeria. It seems reasonable to start this article with a short definition of Education: education is the process of building minds. Imparting knowledge from the teacher to the student, in order to make the life of the latter a better one, and by so doing, building a better society.
What is Early Childhood Education In Nigeria?
The usual age at which children start school in Nigeria is around 5 years old. Early childhood education, therefore refers to the teachings offered to children who are yet to reach the statutory age of starting primary school. That means young children from ages 3 to 5 years, who get a headstart in their educational careers, withing the four walls of a classroom. Early childhood education, therefore must be seen as a kind of preschool, with the intention of arousing the children’s appetite for learning, arousing curiosity, and imparting basic knowledge in a playful, relaxed setting, so as to get to the heart and mind of the young children.
In this post we want to look at the problems that this kind of education faces in Nigeria, and what can be done to reduce the effects of the problems. First, let us understand why exactly early childhood education is important, and what society stands to gain by its proper application…
Importance of Early Childhood Education In Nigeria
Early childhood education plays a vital role in the development of these young minds because most of what they learn prepare them for the next stage of their lives. It is the foundation upon which their mental development is built. The human brain undergoes rapid growth during the Early Childhood stage; it’s at this period in which a child builds cognitive and character skills. Cognitive skills are the core skills your brain uses to think, to solve problems, read, learn, remember things and (most importantly) pay attention; while character skills are soft skills such as openness to learning, conscientiousness, tolerance, working with others, resilience, self-control, etc.
No doubt, it is a very important time in the life of a child and is a time when the child learns the behavioral patterns that could potentially stay with him for the rest of his life. It seems that many of society’s problems would be solved if we were to properly utilize the opportunities presented to us through the vehicle of Early Childhood Education. Some analysts have said: If early childhood institutions can capitalize well on the available supports and learning opportunities that are available to them, then it will become easier to raise young children, and much easier to build better societies.
Problems Facing Early Childhood Education In Nigeria.
There are so many issues and problems pressing hard on the education sector in Nigeria as a whole. No doubt, Early Childhood Education in the country is not free from having its own share of the woes. Here is a breakdown of the major problems facing early childhood education in Nigeria, and a word or two about what can be done to solve them.
1. Lack of Competent Teachers-
This is not to cast doubt on the teaching skills of Nigerian teachers! The problem is not entirely their fault. More just has to be done to develop curriculums for pre-schoolers, as they are mostly overtasked with work schemes that are of a higher age grade, being forced on them by helpless teachers that lack the proper materials to work with.
More should be done to develop teaching curriculums for preschools. Furthermore, teachers should be retrained regularly on the new methods of teaching the preschoolers so as to get the desired results. The Authorities should have a hand in this training and retraining exercise.
2. Underpaid, and Undermotivated Teachers
Most teachers, especially of the Early Childhood Department, are paid ridiculously low salaries in Nigeria. This puts undue mental pressure on the teachers as they are basically weighed down with anxiety of trying to make ends meet. Furthermore, when a teacher is unmotivated, she does not give her best, and this ultimately affects the quality of education being delivered to the children. This is especially painful because as we have stated earlier in this post early childhood is a period of development in a child, and a child who is not given the best possible attention may end up not being as sharp as his peers who have received better handling.
Authorities must intervene in the issue of what is acceptable pay for hardworking teachers. they must then find ways to enforce the pay increase so that preschools do not renege on their duties to teachers.
3. Increase in the Number of Early Childhood Institutions –
In recent years there has been an utter proliferation in the number of Daycare Centres/ Preschools/ Creches in Nigeria. While it is a great thing to have more institutions, it can also be a serious issue if the quality of teaching is allowed to go downhill. The problem seems to be the fact that there is no clear gap between an ordinary daycare where kids are kept in order to ease the load on working mothers, and proper Early Childhood education centres.
There are so many early childhood education institutions located in various places such as shopping centres, churches, residential buildings, campuses of some universities and so on. Not surprisingly, many institutions fail to offer quality services. The education they render is unbalanced and poor, and even the care given to the children is often below expectations.
Authorities must identify high-quality early childhood education centres. A high-quality early childhood program should provide a safe and nurturing environment for the children while promoting physical, social, emotional, and intellectual growth for them as well.
4. Ineffective Supervision of Early Childhood Institutions –
Since there is no proper categorization of preschools it is not surprising that many Early Childhood Education centers in Nigeria are left unsupervised. This is bad because creates a poor running structure, and there is no motivation to comply with ethics. Some of the teachers employed to teach children in preschools in Nigeria lack the training and temperament, that is necessary to handle young children.
There should be adequate monitoring and inspection of early childhood institutions by the state authority. This monitoring should also include the setting and enforcing requirements for teachers to be employed in the preschools, and monitoring of the classroom activities, maybe even with the help of CCTV cameras.
5. The Ratio of Teachers to Pupils
Most early childhood educational institutions have inadequate caregivers for the number of children they enroll. The classes are therefore overpopulated, leaving many children with little or no attention due to the high student-to-teacher ratio because more children mean less attention to go round.
Since small children generally have low attention spans this just cannot work. If the teaching and learning process is to be effective then it has to be on a personal note. The classroom has to be small enough for the teacher to devote time to individual children on a personal note, so as to encourage the children to participate because small children learn through interaction.
Registered preschools must be encouraged to comply by reducing the number of children in each classroom. Even if this has to mean increasing the fees that they collect from the parents, this has to be done if the children are to learn.
That’s all on the Problems Facing Early Childhood Education In Nigeria and Possible Solutions.
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