Background of the Study
Early childhood education encompasses all forms of education that pertains to learning of children between ages zero to five years (0-5years). In other words, it involves schooling for young children beginning at age zero who intended to prepare them for primary school (Caldwell, 1999). Universally, there is no one definition of early childhood education. Early childhood education is more of a social intervention, where the children learn how to interact with their peer and learn from each other. It therefore follows that all societies have specific aims about raising and educating their children. In effect, most societies care about early childhood education. However, every society has its individual arrangements for such childcare and education that tend to be culturally, historically specific and varied. It is in the light of this that coined the term educare to help widen the scope. Educare is a quality early childhood education that combine the best of childcare, preschool and family supports to help low-income children ages birth to five grow up eager to learn and ready for school (Bowman, Donor and Burn, 2001). It aims to take the best early childhood study from the lab to the classroom through development of a network of excellence. The new expansion of childhood education now includes the child minding centers for infants, nursery schools and kindergarten. Internationally, educare or childcare in a group setting could be offered in a crèche, day care, or childcare centers, nursery and kindergarten schools.
Early childhood is a period of rapid growth which Obiweluozo (2012), defined as foundation period of life, a period that holds the key to the overall maximum development of a child. Therefore, early childhood stage is the foundation for a better future. Early childhood education is a period characterized by different forms of activities by children such as playing with toys, running around, jumping up and down, walking, catching, kicking, curious and explorative in nature, they learn very easily through play (Maduike, Maduike and Ekeh, 2013). Similarly, Papalia and Feldman (2011) noted that the early childhood children are full of questions such as; who filled the river with water? Do smalls come from inside my nose? Why do people have too eyes? among others. In other to give reasonable answer to satisfy the curiosity and to give proper care and education to the children, there is need for early childhood education, where the professional takes care of the children and give room for exploration of the environment to discover things on their own. According to the Nigerian National Policy on Education (NPE) (FRN, 2004) early childhood education is the education given in an educational institution to children prior to their entering the primary school. Early childhood education includes the crèche, the nursery and kindergarten. National Policy on Education (NPE), outlines the objectives of early childhood education to include: effecting a smooth transmission from the home to the school, preparing the child for the primary level of education, providing adequate care and supervision for the children while their parents are at work, inculcating social norms, inculcating in the child the spirit of enquiry and creativity through the exploration of nature, the environment, art, music and playing with toys, developing a sense of co-operation and team spirit, and teaching the child the rudiments of numbers, letters, colors, shapes, forms through play (FRN, 2004: 3). The objectives of early childhood education reflect the philosophy, which specifies that early childcare environment has a tremendous influence on children’s development. As explained by Ibiam (2011), the education of young children must be organized and vigorously pursued through well-articulated programmes. This, according to Ibiam (2011) is because the nature of the education a child receives in the first five years of life is crucial for his/her overall development and later life chances. Maduewesi (2005) postulates that the care and support received by a child in terms of good health, nutrition and psychological care and protection are crucial in the formation and development of personality and social behaviour.
Similarly, good care during the early years is emphasized because children who receive good care during childhood age are more likely to benefit from later education and other social services (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund UNICEF, 1999). To actualize the objectives of childhood education as stipulated in the N.P.E, there should be provision of qualified childhood education schoolteachers that are also adequate in number. In childhood education schools in some states in Nigeria, the availability and adequacy of teachers in number and quality deserves investigation, as casual observation seems to suggest that there is gross inadequacy of teaching personnel both in quantity and in quality.
The National Policy on Education also provides that childhood schools should operate with a suitable curriculum. Curriculum is the totality of the environment in which education takes place, that is, the learner, the teachers, the content, the method, the physical and psychological environment (Anwuka, 2005). It could also refer to all the experiences a learner passes through in a learning situation and these many include individual outdoor activities, written, verbal physical and mental activities (Maduewesi, 2003). Curriculum is the document plan or blue print for instructional guide, which is used for teaching and learning to bring about positive and desirable learner behaviour change (Offorma, 2009).
The early childhood school curriculum consists of the plan for the overall learning programme for children below primary school age. It articulates learning activities to be emphasized and the benefits to be derived from the learning process of the child. Effective operation of the early childhood school curriculum requires trained teachers in childhood education learning methods based on a sound formation of child development and psychology as well as the global information and communication technology (Anwuka, 2005).
Inline with the purpose of the ECCE, Universal Basic Education UBE (2004) states that the implementation of UBE program is expected to integrate the ECCE in public primary school. Such schools are non-fee paying and are supported with instructional materials and facilities, thereby making preschool affordable and open to more children. ECCE provides an important foundation for later learning and it is an integral part of lifelong learning. It serves as a preparatory ground for elementary level of education. However, Ibiam (2012) observed that in spite of all the laudable goals and of NPE, UBE and Integrated Early Childhood Development in Nigeria (IECD), the early child hood education of children leaves more to be desired than observed. Thus, a large proportion of Nigerian children still lack access to or participates in ECCE programmes, particularly in Enugu State. Noting the effort of the government of Nigeria in the facilitation of the achievement of objectives of the ECCE programme, Ugwu (2012) stated that the only effective measure taken by the government to facilitate the achievement of the objectives of the programme, is the grating of permission for the private efforts in the provision of the ECCE. The author went further by saying that the significant provision is yet to be made in many public ECCE schools. In view of this problem, the challenges of ECCE programme in Nigeria seem enormous. This calls for the need for the assessment of the extent of implementation of ECCE programmes in Public schools in Enugu state.
Assessment is a process that involves the collection, processing and interpretation of the result from measurement of various aspects of educational objectives in other to value, level or worth of progress made by or challenges observed in individuals or an establishment (Joshua, 2005). Assessment entails an intrinsic and wholesome integration of data from formal and informal measurement procedure of the cognitive, affective and psychomotor attribute of a child (Eme, 2012). Assessment in this study means the ability to collect, analyse and interpret data about the implementation of the ECCE programe in public schools in Enugu State. Implementation is a tool or means to make something that has officially decide to start to happen or to be used. It means putting into practice or using the policies that have been made by the government or an organization. Therefore, it is the ability to put laws or policies into practice. In this way, it means the extent to which the policies on ECCE have been put into practice in the public schools in ECCE centres in Enugu state.
In other to achieve the purpose of the ECCE programme, it is necessary to examine the minimum standard of ECCE as it has been set up by the government to guide the activities of the ECCE centres in Nigeria. The minimum standards of ECCE programme by the Nigeria Education Research and Development Council (NERDC), in conjunction with United Nation Education Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and other development partners, addressing the gap in ECCE programme, stated that there is need to develop National Minimum standard to guide the ECCE programme in Nigeria. The prescribed minimum standard includes the type of the ECCE centres, the location, ownership, provision of qualified and experienced teacher, provision of infrastructures and equipments, provision of standard curriculum and monitoring, supervision of the ECCE programme in Nigeria. Thus, adherence to this minimum standard will enhance uniformity and promote learning out come in ECCE programme.
From observations and comments from teachers and parents whose children are in the schools, there seems to be no approved curriculum in use. In addition, the teacher personnel are both inadequate in number and quality. This is because the system is very new in the Nigerian education system. Enough work forces have not been trained for this system of education. The physical environments of some of the early childhood schools do not seem to provide for good learning environments. Moreover, the health standard of the pupils seems very poor (UNICEF, 2009). Towards ensuring high standard in early childhood education, UNICEF (2009) had provided a blueprint for use by all early childhood schools in Nigeria. The blueprint is clearly outlined in the child friendly school (CFS) initiatives, which ensuring having proper teachers prepared to meet their needs; ensuring that health and well-being of children are addressed as an integral part of promoting learning; ensuring safe the schools are as places for learning; providing an overall gender sensitive environment that is conducive to learning; respect by schools and teachers to the rights of children; use of child-centred teaching methods as good practice and standard methodology by teachers and the school; ensuring adequate classroom interaction as well as in the broader operation and management of the school; ensuring availability of adequate environmentally sustainable facilities, services and supplies that support the needs of the whole child and also of all children; The use of pedagogy that challenges and dismantles discrimination based on gender, ethnicity or social background. Proponents of Child Friendly School maintain that all of these factors, interacting in a dynamic and organic manner, constitute the ‘packaged solution that can be confidently described as a ‘child-friendly school’.
(UNICEF, 2009: 23).
Another effort toward actualizing the objectives of early childhood education in Nigeria is the provision of quality supervision and control mechanism of early childhood institutions in existing public schools. The effort remains a mirage, as the monitoring mechanism of government for early childhood education schools seems inadequate and ill prepared. According to Maduewesi (2005), most problem of pre-primary education curriculum implementation hinge around policy, quality control and funding. The National Policy on Education, NPE (FRN, 2004) recommends specialization of teachers in pre-primary education and training of qualified pre-primary school teachers. This is because, according to Ibiam (2005), the teacher influences the quality of pre-primary education. Therefore, for the teacher to be effective, he/she must be empowered through adequate learning. Unfortunately, the extent to which quality teachers are found in childhood schools is not certain and deserves investigation.
Effective implementation of the goals of early childhood education demands adequate provision of necessary facilities. For Offorma (2006), children at the early childhood education level love to explore their environment and there should be adequate provision of facilities to make the environment conducive for learning and stimulate mental development. Also, a child, during the early childhood years, requires enough stimulating environment where he/she has freedom to explore and manipulate different materials and situations. Varieties of activities which enable the child to choose from place for movement and play are further necessities of early childhood education to arouse and sustain the child’s curiosity. As highlighted by UNICEF (2009), a young child’s learning gets enhanced when the child engages in interactive processes in the environment. In the pre-primary schools in Nigeria, there is still doubt on the availability and adequacy of facilities and equipment for children’s interactive learning activities.
Another area of concern in the actualization of the goals of early childhood education is the utilization of information and communication technologies (ICT) in teaching and learning. ICT has the potentials of increasing access to and improving the relevance and quality of education especially in a developing country like Nigeria. This is because it facilitates the acquisition of knowledge and offers opportunities to enhance the educational system including early childhood education. The possession of adequate knowledge of computer literacy skills, according to Offorma (2008), opens a wide range of opportunities and possibilities for both the teacher and the learners. It can therefore be seen that ICT facilities are very useful tools in equipping teachers with desirable techniques for effective teaching. It constitutes variety to the resources and style in handling instruction thereby making it fun and exciting for the learners.
The objectives of childhood education have implications for mental, physical, social, and moral development of the child and these can be achieved through a conducive and peaceful learning environment. According to Gorba (2012), early childhood education is characterized by self regulation, moral development, physical growth, personality development and gender socialization. Therefore, a child at the early childhood years needs a climate of security and acceptance to go through the educative process central to early childhood care and education. There should be belief in and respect for the rights of the individual child because every child has a unique pattern of development. Enueme (2004) highlights some of the child’s rights as entitlement to quality life, to respect and to the child’s wellbeing and further states that such child’s rights should be provided by caregivers, communities, schools and government. However, in early childhood schools in Nigeria, the extent to which child’s rights are guaranteed needs to be investigated towards the actualization of the goals of early childhood education.
Another factor worth consideration in the effective implementation of early childhood education is the health and safety status of the child. UNICEF (2009), explained that pupils imbibe the habits of good hygiene, especially when the school environment offers the opportunity. Therefore, early childhood care and education schools should provide a safe and healthy environment for the child’s learning. The approach to health and safety education should focus on the development of relevant knowledge, attitudes, values and life skills. Similarly, in seeking to achieve the goals of early childhood education, adequate funding is imperative. Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN, 2004) states that the success of any system of education is hinged on adequate funding. Funding for early childhood education implies mobilization of sufficient funds for the magnitudes of activities needed for the realization of the objectives of the programme. According to Enueme (2000), funding leads to improved infrastructural facilities, payment of teachers’ salaries, and provision of instructional and learning materials for the target population. At present, the extent to which funding of early childhood education is done is not very certain and deserves attention and investigation.
Finally, the role of supervision in the realization of the objectives of early childhood education is paramount. Alamaechi and Nomaine (2000) defined supervision as a process of exercising authority, responsibility for planning, controlling work, overseeing subordinates, by close contacts, providing guidance and leadership to workers. Supervisors, according to the authors, should be leaders who are skilled in human relation group processes, personnel administration and evaluative supervisions of early childhood education schools should be the responsibility of ministries of education or any agency that is bestowed with the responsibility and should be done in a professional way. The extent of supervision of early childhood education in states seems ineffective and inadequate and this further calls for investigation.
For the successful implementation of early childhood educational policies and programmes in Nigerian schools, it will undoubtedly begin with the question of teachers possessing the basic skills that can empower them to demonstrate required competence in instructional delivery. To enhance effective delivery of instruction in early childhood, there is need to identify some factors that influence teachers’ skills in the implementation of the curriculum. Such information is necessary for enhancing effective teaching and learning in the schools. It is believed, that a number of factors determines the level of competencies among teachers in Nigerian schools. Such factors include qualification, age, school location, teaching experience and gender (Umo, 2010). Uzoagulu (1992) while discussing attributes that affect students’ performance noted that teacher’s qualification is a factor of students’ level of achievement in school subject. Inyang (2008) observed that students taught by qualified teachers perform better in examination than students taught by less-qualified teachers. Federal Republic of Nigeria (2004) stated that Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE) is the minimum qualification for entry into the teaching profession. Any teacher with NCE is qualified to teach and so teachers with a minimum qualification of NCE are considered qualified for the purpose of this study.
Qualification of a teacher has a direct bearing on his /her mastery of content and hence ability to effectively impart knowledge to the learners. In the same line, Eshiwani (2008) found out that teachers qualification has a bearing on learners’ performance in examinations. Kathuri (2006) noted that qualified teachers were an asset to their schools if they were committed to academic achievement. Similarly, Maundu (2006) in a study on student’s achievement found that teacher qualification has significant effect on learners’ performance. From the literature review, it is imperative that teacher’s qualification is a critical ingredient in the provision of quality education. These assertions will be subject to verification following the implementation of the early childhood education curriculum in Enugu State.
In appraisal of the early childhood education, the issue of school location may be considered relevant. Location, according to Ovute (2012) is adjudged by the availability of basic facilities like accessible roads, electricity, water and other social welfare attributes in an environment. Schools that are situated in an environment, which possesses features of modern amenities, are considered to be of urban location. On the other hand, schools that are located in remote parts of geographical terrain, which lack many or all the modern development attributes are considered as rural schools. Such rural schools are distant from modern visibility. In this study, the concept of school location will be taken to mean schools that are within the developed/developing town or in a village setting. Location could influence skills possessed by teachers for effective implementation of early childhood education programmes in Enugu State. A school cannot usually change its location, yet location conceivably may have consequences for how well teachers are exposed to innovative teaching strategies and instructional materials. Studies have been conducted on rural gaps and teacher effectiveness, Emeke and Odetoyinbo (2003) and in cross-national comparison (Williams, 2004). In the USA, rural education is associated with disadvantage in the public discourse. Studies by Onah (2011) and Owoeye, (2002) indicate that teachers in urban school had higher competences in teaching than their counterpart in the rural schools. Onimisi (2006) found a significant effect of school location in favour of urban teachers on competences needed for teaching agriculture than their rural counterparts. Given the nature of early childhood education, it can be said that teachers in the rural areas may be more advantaged in the use of instructional materials because of the abundance of rich and untapped natural resources deposit in the rural environment. Contrary to the above assertion, teachers in the urban areas may have a better advantage owing to the level of infrastructural supply in the urban school by both government and non-governmental organizations. Therefore, based on these assertions and controversies, this study will find out if school location on skills possessed by teachers for effective implementation of early childhood education in schools.
Statement of the Problem
In spite of the well-articulated goals and objectives of early childhood education as specified in the National Policy on Education, the actualization of these goals of early childhood education programme does not seem successful. Also, notwithstanding the UNICEF’s provision guidelines on the operation of early childhood education programme in Nigeria and other developing countries, the goals of early childhood education is yet to be actualized. For any educational programme such as early childhood education to achieve its goals, some factors should be adequately addressed. Such factors include qualified teachers, appropriate funding, provision of infrastructural facilities, adequate supervision, among others. Presently, the level of provision of these requirements seems uncertain.
The gaps that currently exist between the specification and actualization of the goals of early childhood education may suggest that there are some obstacles in the implementation process. If the goals of early childhood education programme are to be actualized, there is the need to identify and address the obstacles that militate against effective actualization of the goals. Therefore, the problem of this study is, to appraise the extent of implementation of the Early Childhood Education (ECE) programme in Enugu State. This study will also look into the influences of location and teachers qualification on skills possessed by teachers for effective implementation of early childhood education in schools
Purpose of the Study
The general purpose of the study was to appraise the implementation of early childhood education programme in Enugu State. Specifically, the study sought to:
- Determine the extent to which qualified teachers are provided for ECCE programme in early childcare education schools in Enugu State
- Determine the extent to which ECCE programme are established in rural and urban in early childcare education schools in Enugu State
- Determine the extent to which equipments are provided for ECCE programme in early childcare education schools in Enugu State
- Determine the extent to which standard curriculum is available for ECCE programme in early childcare education schools in Enugu State
- Determine the extent to which supervisions are carried out in ECCE centers in early childcare education schools in Enugu State