Experts harp on early childhood education for children

EXPERTS have stressed the need for parents to enrol their children in play-based learning schools to enable them develop better, learn faster, and become successful adults.

The experts, drawn from Federal government agencies, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), child care-based non-governmental organisations and academics, said children who grow through play-based schools acquire knowledge more seamlessly and become brilliant and successful adults.

Addressing journalists in Sokoto, Sokoto State, at a two-day media dialogue organized by the Child Rights Information Bureau (ICRIB) of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, in collaboration with UNICEF, the experts urged all tiers of government and schools to provide more play-based learning tools for children.

They also called for the recruitment and retraining of teachers for the children.

The meeting, which focussed on Early Child Education (ECE) in Nigeria, discussed the need for children to be enrolled in play-based learning schools at age two.

The experts noted that learning at age two and before they clock five years when they are fully enrolled in pre-primary one, prepares children better for education and functioning at home and in the society.

In her presentation on ‘Parental Engagement in Early Learning’, UNICEF’s Education Specialist, Yetunde Oluwatosin, said one in three (36 per cent) children enjoyed early childhood education in Nigeria.

Oluwatosin said 10 million children under five in the country were not enrolled.

She deplored low spending on, and limited infrastructure for the ECE programme.

The Country Coordinator, Early Childhood Development Initiative (ECD), Emy Panyi, averred that enrolling children in play-based schools would reduce the number of  out-of-school children in the country.

Panyi called for increased training for teachers handling children, and on community awareness on the importance of the ECE.
The Sokoto State Chief of Field Office, Maryam Darwesh, said the Federal government’s Early Childhood Development Policy aims at creating an enabling environment for the provision of integrated ECD services and coordination mechanisms among sectors at decentralized levels.

“Nigeria has made some progress in the implementation of this policy. Despite the progress, there are still some challenges which include low awareness and understanding of the importance of ECD, poor articulation and clarity of the policy, weak coordination among the relevant agencies, and, most importantly, poor funding.

“Teachers must understand the importance of ECE. They must have the tools they need to teach, and must be able to teach. Parents must support ECE. We need to teach them in a way they can understand,” Darwesh said.

She added that there was no line budget for ECE in states, regretting, “What we have is a budget for primary education.”

A child’s brain develops at an 85 per cent rate when they clock five years, and they develop the remaining 15 per cent when they become adults, said Sunday Jibrin Ushe, a chief lecturer at the Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, Sokoto State.

Ushe explained, “If the brain is not developed earlier, people won’t function as human beings very well. Human nature is different from an animal. A goat can give birth, and within minutes, it will start jumping and walking, so are cows and other animals, apart from birds.



    “But the human system at birth has to go through stages of development. Some children don’t walk till they are two years, while others walk from seven months upward.”

    He added that instincts work for animals but do not for humans. To make the human function effective, the child needs to go through different learning processes, which he said are better acquired through play-based learning.

    According to him, the school curricula for children help them learn better than when they are not in school.

    For instance, he said, it was wrong to teach a child to count many numbers when starting to learn, like counting from 1 to 20. He stated that it is better done from number one to five repeatedly.





    Marcus bears the light, and he beams it everywhere. He's a good governance and decent society advocate. He's The ICIR Reporter of the Year 2022 and has been the organisation's News Editor since September 2022. Contact him via email @ [email protected].

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