Background of the Study
Education is an indispensable and veritable tool for the existence and sustainability of any nation that wishes to develop. It must be acknowledged that the educational status of citizens in any country serve as the major tool to identify the developmental strength of such a country. According to Onwuka (2011), education, in its everyday sense could mean formal training that is given in schools, colleges and universities, that is, the acquisition of the ability to read, write and calculate. It could also mean the specialized training that is given on the job. Onuoha (1999) in National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), (2012) in his own submission, sees education as a process by which individuals are enabled to develop their capabilities through the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values and attitudes both for their own benefit and for the benefit of the society. Enaohwo (2006) also added that education is the only practical way of attaining individual and social fulfillment, that is, a process of socialization, enculturation and transmission of what is worthwhile to those who are committed to it, be they children or adults. It can also mean a process of developing knowledge ability in a learner in such a way that he uses this knowledge to improve himself and the society.
In Nigeria, the role of education in development is amplified by the federal government in the National Policy on Education (FRN, 2004), which stated that education is an instrument par excellence for effective national development. It further added that education shall continue to be highly rated in the national development plans as the most important instrument of change and that any fundamental change in the intellectual and social outlook of any society has to be preceded by educational revolution. People aspire and demand for education because of its
practical effect in the society whereby people with higher education are rapidly being evaluated to positions of responsibility and influence.
From the above definitions, one could conclude that education is a strong weapon that determines the growth and development of individuals and the society at large. Education exposes individuals and societies to new knowledge and experiences that will aid the growth and development of the individuals and societies physically, emotionally, socially, and intellectually (Musaazi, 2012). Education equally nurses and nurtures an individual to become a full-fledged member of the society (Adeogum, 2004). It is also noteworthy that education begins at birth and ends at death and such education could be in a formal or informal form all geared towards the general improvement of an individual and the society at large (Ayodele, 2004).
It is the realization of the valued role of education in nation building that prompted the Federal Government of Nigeria to introduce Integrated Early Childhood Development in Nigeria with the sole aim of uplifting the lives of children of 0-5 years (Rose, 2002).The Early Childhood Programme seeks to take the necessary care and support of all Nigerian Children within this age bracket. This will as well create avenues for the inclusion of education, health, food and nutrition and child rights together for the development of the child wholly. It is an established fact that, the wellbeing of a child is the wellbeing of the home, the society, and the nation at large (United Nation International Children Education Fund (UNICEF), 2002). According to the early childhood programme, the Nigerian child suffers deprivation of good social services in terms of poor nutrition, health care and access to safe water and sanitation, general protection from environmental hazards and insecurity which are as a result of several factors such as ignorance and lack of education, maladministration among others (National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, 2005).
Early Childhood Education, as Maduewesi (2004) opines, is a semi-formal education arrangement, usually outside the home, whereby young children of about the age of three are exposed through play like activities in a group setting, to mental, social and physical learning suited to their developmental stage until the mandatory age of government approved formal schooling. Maduewesi further maintains that several other terms used in describing early childhood education include nursery school, pre-school and pre-primary school. In view of the above, Bartlett, (2013) opines that it is of paramount importance that the provision and management of early child development programme be integrated to meet the needs of all children of 0-5 years.
The early years have been recognized as the ideal phase for the passing of values that are important for the building of a peaceful, prosperous and democratic society. These include respect for human rights, appreciation of diversity, anti-bias, tolerance and justice. It is important to identify and support children in their early lives. If there is early and appropriate treatment and care, this can also reverse the effects of deprivation and support the development of innate potentials. By and large, early childhood development intervention will allow children to develop to their full potentials, thus reducing the need for remedial services later. The core concept of early childhood development education is to embrace all crucial aspects relating to the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual balance that will contribute to the wellbeing of children from birth to pre-school (United Nation Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Institute of Statistics & the Center for Universal Education, 2013). And this call for an adequate planning and funding of early childhood education programme globally.
Planning for early child care and development is what every parent must look forward to. In simple words, planning is deciding in advance what is to be done, when, where, how and by whom it is to be done. Planning bridges the gap from where we are to where we want to go. It includes the selection of objectives, policies, procedures and programmes from among alternatives. A plan is a predetermined course of action to achieve a specified goal. It is an intellectual process characterized by thinking before doing. It is an attempt on the part of a manager to anticipate the future in order to achieve better performance. Planning is the primary function of management. Alford and Beatt (2007) remarks that, “Planning is the thinking process, the organized foresight, the vision based on fact and experience that is required for intelligent action.” According to Haimann (2009) “Planning is deciding in advance what is to be done. When a manager plans, he projects a course of action for further attempt to achieve a consistent co-ordinate structure of operations aimed at desired results. Adebayo (2003), submit that Planning is the formal process of making decisions for the future of individuals and organizations. Planning involves dealing on aims and objectives, selecting to correct strategies and program to achieve the aims, determining and allocating the resources required and ensuring that plans are communicated to all concerned. Plans are statement of things to be done and the sequence and timing in which they should be done in order to achieve a given end (Fro, 2009).
Planning for Early Child Care and Development Centres should be accessible because, in these centres, children are introduced to basis of education (formal).They can also be introduced to good social behaviours, good feeding patterns, good sanitary behaviour, among others. These avail them the opportunity to grow up as good adults. The government, being aware of this makes the necessary policy guidelines that can assist to attain the aforementioned goals for the well-being of children. It is these aforementioned needs, that led to the establishment of Early Childhood Development Centres in Nigeria today as well as to the state and zonal levels which Benue State and her educational zones in particular are established. All these are based on the objectives of the National Policy on Education (FRN, 2004).
Significantly, setting up early childhood development centres should not just be the target of the owners of the centres for ego-centric and money making avenue because of the sensitive nature of children within this age bracket. This crucial stage in the life of any child either makes or mars the future of such a child. Therefore, the administration of early childhood care centres should be prioritized and considered positively for the general upbringing of the child. It is on this note that Adebayo (2004) posits that administration is the organization and direction of people in order to accomplish a specific end. Adebayo (2004) and Maduewsi (2005) acknowledge that administration includes all the activities, knowledge and skills which are arranged for the benefits of children, usually in group setting. By and large, the administration of integrated early childhood development centres must be very sensitive to the entire needs of the child and bring them into focus in order to attain significant success (Enyi, 2003).
The quality of administration affects the realization of the goals of the organization. If the administration is effective, the realization of the goals integrated early childhood development centres will be a success. However, if the administration is a failure, the aims cannot be achieved. This means that all the processes which shall ensure the success of the programme must be carefully used. According to Enyi (2003), administration is concerned with dealing with the various ways in which human and material resources are utilized to achieve set goals in an organization. These processes include such elements as planning, decision making, organizing, co-ordinating, motivating, directing, evaluating, staffing and budgeting. Until these various aspects of administration are brought together from the various sectors to accomplish the objectives of the programme, the whole exercise will be a failure (Enyi, 2003).
If the administration of the integrated early childhood development centres is to be a success, it means that all stakeholders should contribute in their various areas towards achieving the set objectives of the programme. Adama (2012) maintained that successful administration of integrated early childhood development programme requires a focused and determined structure that coordinates the activities of all the stakeholders in education. Administering the integrated early childhood development centres programme therefore requires bringing together these principles in addition to co-ordinating the various stakeholders to achieve the success of the programme (UNCEIF, 2008).
To achieve this objective, resources such as human, material and financial must be available in the right quantities and quality. The human resources, according to Ogbonnaya (2001) include the staff (teaching and non-teaching) in the various integrated early childhood development centres that help in the implementation of the programme for the achievement of the goals. Equipment/facilities include physical facilities, instructional materials and other equipment such as structures, seats for the children, among others. These are very necessary for the achievement of any programme. Moreover, Ogbonnaya (2003) argues that the success of educational programmes depends on achievement of adequate plan. The space that exists between the curriculum and the physical plan must be in the focus of the administrators thinking. Ogbonnaya, further feels that to enhance the mutual, physical and social well-being of the young, there is need to keep on improving the physical facilities of the schools.
The financial resources consist of money necessary for payment of staff, procurement and maintenance of materials and equipment. Money for these must be provided and properly handled by the administrators to enable them succeed (Ogbonnaya, 2003).
Since the administration of integrated early childhood development centres is to be undertaken at different levels, the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child (NSCDC, 2009) policy establishing the integrated early childhood development centres programmes should also provide how money for running of the programme can be raised.
According to the policy, a substantial portion of the money will be undertaken by the federal Government through provision of funds for basic infrastructures like water, electricity, good roads and hospitals. These are necessary to support integrated early childhood development centres activities nationwide.
They should meet all costs relating to standard maintenance and supervision of integrated early childhood development centres facilities and pre-schools to ensure quality service delivery; establish and adequately for a national specialized resources centre for integrated early childhood development centres to serve as research and information base for Early Childhood Education. It will also help to provide fund to support organizational participation of local Early Childhood Education professionals in national and international conferences (NSCDC, 2015). At the state level, the state government will:
- Contribute through the provision and funding of infrastructures, play equipment and other essential learning packages necessary to help young children to be happy.
- Provide baby/child friendly hospital/ clinics environment and services for children 0-5 years by equipping hospital/clinics with up to date medical facilities including personnel.
- Provide fund for all recurrent expenditure relating to operation and maintenance of publicly owned pre-school/day care facilities.
- Provide one school meal to children enrolled in public pre-school facilities.
At the local level, the local government will:
- Fund training requirements of caregivers and teachers
- Fund and manage the health centres, clinics and pre-school/day care facilities
- Provide fund for establishment of crèches, Day care centres as required in the local communities (Enyi, 2014)
Apart from these sources, funds will be pooled locally through donations in cash or kind by the civil society organisations like, NGOs, CBOs, and Religious Organisations, donations by Philanthropists, contributions in cash and kind by local communities, donations/grant from private companies, as well as grants and loans from international development partners (Enyi, 2014).Administratively, Adebayo (2004) maintained that the administration of any organization is the life-wire of such an organization. Therefore, it becomes a special demand of both the government and individuals to exhibit a high level of administrative skills or talent to positively add colour to the future of the child. Similar to the organizational structure of the administrative sectors stated above, the real activities going on includes staff relationship, recruitment, staff empowerment development, facilities, student relationship, finance business management and community relationship.
Meanwhile, Benue State as one of the 36 states in Nigeria with precisely 23 local government areas, through the State Universal Basic Education Board (BSUBEB) only became sensitive to the need of approving the running of establishment of the early childhood development centres on the 9th July 2003 (Adama, 2010). It is noteworthy that the integration that exists between the management and the instrument of both human and environmental factors, location of the childhood care centre are the surest ways of enhancing the development of any integrated childhood care centre in Nigeria and Benue State in particular. The school location (urban or rural) of these integrated childhood care centres is an important factor to be taken into consideration.
Location refers to areas or place of settlement that is considered urban or rural (Kristianson, 2005). Location in the context of this study refers to site or location of early childhood school which can be urban or rural. The united nation state census bureau describes rural and urban areas based on the geographical characteristics of the area. It defined rural areas to comprise of country or settlement with less than 2,500 people. According to Myrdal (2005), maintained that three types of criteria generally define a rural area. These are number of inhabitants to open land and type of economic activities such as food production as in agricultural activities like fishing and exploitation of raw materials among others. While urban area depends on characteristics that incorporates elements of population density, social and economic organization and the transformation of the natural environment into built environment (Weaks, 2010). This means that an urban area is an area where both males and females engage in non-agricultural activities for their livelihood.
Gender refers to society’s division of humanity based on sex. Gender guides how females and males think about themselves, how they interact with others and what position they occupy in society as a whole. Gee (2002), remarked that female administrator may be more experience for Integrated Early Childhood development centres management than male administrators because child rearing and caring are divine responsibility given to women right from creation. But Adama (2015) argued that effective administration is a function of better training of the administrator and not gender. It is against this background that the researcher intends to examine the constraints to administration of integrated early childhood development centres in Education Zone A of Benue State.
Statement of the Problem
The contemporary educational sector is faced with pyramids of challenges from the colonial era to this post-independence period as the country and individuals are in fervent search of the best education for the child. The education of the child is of paramount importance to homes and the societies at large. Early years in life are the most important to the formation of intelligence, personality and social behaviour of a child. The year before a child reaches pre-primary is among the most critical in his or her life to influence learning. That is why 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 schooling (usually 6years) mainly to prepare them for education in primary schools. 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 on Education (FRN, 2004) as one of the programmes in the Nigerian educational system. But the reports across the globe especially in Benue State 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, nutrition, illiteracy and abuses which Benue State is included. The issue of administration, planning, management and funding of the few integrated early childhood development centres is another challenges in Benue State, evidence from literature. Therefore, 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).Buttress this point, ECCDE aims is to foster the proper development of the children, identify and address their problems, harness their potentials, mold their character, enhance their learning, equip them for life, so that their actions are channeled towards positive personal, communal and global development in all ramifications of life. It is on this note that, this study is out to examine the constraints constituting to the administration of integrated early childhood development centres in Benue state education zone
Purpose of the Study
The general purpose of this study was to find out the constraints to administration of integrated early childhood development centres in zone A of Benue State. Specifically, the study sought to determine:
- Whether planning constitutes constraint to the administration of integrated early childhood development centres in Benue State.
- Whether funding constitutes constraint to the administration of integrated early childhood development centres in Benue State.
- Whether quality control poses constraint to the administration of integrated early childhood development centres in Benue State.
- How school facilities constitute constraint to the administration of integrated early child hood development centres.
Significance of the Study
The study has both theoretical and practical significance; theoretically, the study is anchored on the functionality of constructivism theory. Constructivism is basically a theory based on observation and scientific study about how people learn. It says that people construct their own understanding and knowledge of the world, through experiencing things and reflecting on those experiences. When individuals encounter something new, they have to reconcile it with their previous ideas and experience, maybe changing what they believe, or may be discarding the new information as irrelevant. In the classroom, the constructivist view of learning can point towards a number of different teaching practices. In the most general sense, it usually means encouraging students to use active techniques (experiments, real-world problem solving) to create more knowledge and then to reflect on and talk about what they are doing and how their understanding is changing. The teacher makes sure he/she understands the students’ pre-existing conceptions, and guides the activity to address them and build on them. Constructivist teachers encourage students to constantly assess how the activity is helping them gain understanding. By questioning themselves and their strategies, students in the constructivist classroom ideally become “expert learners.” This gives them ever-broadening tools to keep learning. With a well-planned classroom environment, the students learn how to learn. This theory will either be affirmed or disproved by the findings of this study
Practically, the study will be beneficial to head teachers, ministry of education, local government education board and early childhood education centres. The findings of this study when made available to public could be of immense benefit to the head teachers because from the findings of the study, the head teachers will see the need to equip the school, fund the care centres and create learning environment for the pupils. It will also help the proprietors to set up good administrative plan to oversee the affairs of Early Childhood Development Centres, provide trained teachers for effective teaching and learning.
From the findings, Local Government Education Board responsible for monitoring of Early Childhood Development Centres will know what the children at various centres are going through. At the same time, the study will give the board an insight of what should be provided to facilitate and encourage learning environment for the children. The results of the study when published would expose the board the numerous challenges these centres face.
Ministry of education, on the other hand will use this study to develop education policy that will guide the Integrated Early Childhood Development Centres in Benue State. From the findings, the ministry of education will present a proposal to the government the budget to fund the Integrated Early Childhood Development Centres in Benue and Nigeria at large.
Scope of the Study
The geographical scope of this study will be in Educational Zone A, Benue State which comprises of Katsina-Ala, Kwande, Ukwu, Logo, Ushongo, Konshisha and Uandeikya Local Government. Benue state is in North Central created in 1976 out of old of Benue Plateau State. It share boundary with Cross River, Enugu, Ebonyi, Kogi, Nassarawa and Abuja the Federal Capital Territory. The educational zone A of Benue State is bounded in the North by Gboko LGA, Taraba to the North, Cross River to the South and the republic of Cameroon to the East. The content scope will focus on the constraints to Integrated Early Childhood Development Centres in Zone A of Benue State.
The following research questions guided the study:
- What constraint does planning constitute to the administration of integrated early childhood development centres in Benue state?
- What constraint funding constitutes to the administration of integrated early childhood development centres?
- What constraint did quality control posed to the administration of integrated early childhood development centres in Benue state?
- How do school facilities constitute constraint to the administration of integrated early childhood development centres?
H0i: There is no significant difference between the mean response of childhood administrators in Urban and rural areas as regards to constraints of funding associated with administration of integrated early childhood development centres.
H02: There is no significant difference in mean response between male and female administrators of early childhood development centres as regards the constraint of quality control associated with administration of integrated early childhood development centres.