Children & Youth

ECDI, UNICEF unveil research on access to early childhood learning

Funmi Lawrence

The Early Childhood Development Initiative (ECDI) in partnership with UNICEF and the Federal Ministry of Education has unveiled a research document to increase equitable access to quality Early Childhood Education (ECE) in the country.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO), ECDI, Mrs Patricia Falope, at the Strengthening Capacity for Play-Based Learning: Evidence from Nigeria, Kenya and Gambia, in Abuja on Tuesday described childhood development as critical foundation in a child’s life.

Falope said that the foundation must be built on lifelong support of the children, adding that the Reggio Inspired Curriculum had been adopted as a national framework in the country for the teaching of ECE.

She said there was need to strengthen the capacity of teachers to improve the learning of ECE, adding that the project would be implemented in each of the geo-political zones of the country.

According to her, across Africa, there has been increase support in terms of policy, curriculum and guidelines for Play-based learning; but all hands must be on deck to achieve its realisation.

” The research project has an 18 months timeline from June 2022 to December 2023 to be implemented in Kano, Oyo, Gombe, Bayelsa, Ebonyi and the FCT.

” The methodology of the research include: scoping review and situation analysis, review of the curriculum, testing of adapted curriculum and review of findings, finalisation of model and mapping of plan to scale,” she said.

She, therefore, identified equitable access, quality and barriers to teachers implementation of the methodology among others as existing challenges of the ECE.

Also, the UNICEF Chief Education, Saadhna Panday-Soobrayan, called for adequate planning mechanism in monitoring the learning of ECE.

Panday-Soobrayan said that insufficient supply of trained teachers that would ensure the coverage and delivery of ECE was lacking and should be addressed.

” We in UNICEF has the education priorities of ECE for 2022 and beyond to include establishing a community of practice for continuous professional development in ECE and also develop appropriate child-centred and inclusive quality teaching and learning materials.

” We also need to strengthen the regulatory oversight and quality assurance of community based ECE and improve the quality and quantity of ECE workforce, including training them on child-centred, Play-based inclusive pedagogy,” she said.

In the same vein, the Director of Basic Education, Federal Ministry of Education, Dr Folake David, emphasised the importance of pre-primary education which enabled children to develop and thrive in their early years.

David said that it would as well lay a strong foundation for lifelong learning, well-being, future work productivity and economic prosperity.

” Global evidence shows that with quality preprimary education; children are more likely to complete school, less likely to drop out in the early grades, and results in education system efficiencies.

” It is also more effective and less costly than later remediation, provides a positive influence on school enrollment and educational attainment and improves performance in education and development and learning skills at later stages of their lives,” she said.

She said that children were naturally motivated to play as they were naturally inquisitive and want to know more about things in their environment, hence the need for a play-based learning approach for them.

Speaking on the misconceptions as to why play may not be incorporated in preprimary education  in some countries, she expressed optimistism that the  research would find out and highlight ways the country would better make provision for Pre-Primary Education (PPE).

She, therefore, hope the research would provide an insight into the effectiveness of a play-based PPE, how to improve and scale up for more uptake to ensure a world-class inclusive and gender-responsive preprimary education as a means of achieving SDG 4.2.

Also, the World Bank Senior Education Specialist, Dr Olatunde Adekola, said that globally,  learning crisis does not start from the higher education level but from early childhood, hence the need to strengthen the system to deliver an efficient and effective ECE.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the ECE is for the first five years of life of a child which usually gives support to improve child’s simulative environment. The event has participants from the Federal Ministry of Education, National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE), Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and the Civil Society Action Coalition on Education for All (CSACEFA).(NAN)

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