Background of the Study
Pre-primary education is the care and education given to young children before their legal school years. It is the bedrock upon which other levels of education are set. It is also a foundation for lifelong learning. Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN, 2004) in the National Policy on Education (NPE) refers to it as the education given in an educational institution to children prior to their entering primary school. It includes the crèche, the nursery and the kindergarten. Morrison (2004) defined pre-primary education as the care and education given to children of eight years old. Maduewesi (2005) conceptualized pre-primary education as encompassing the care, education and development of children under six years – psychically, mentally, socially and emotionally. Obinaju and Ibiam (2012) states that pre-primary education includes the provision of feeding, clothing, shelter, supervision care prevention of illnesses and provision of stimulating learning environment for children from 0 – 6 years of age. In effect, pre-primary education has improved from single sectional approach to a multi-sectional approach covering intervention in health, care, nutrition stimulation and protection of children from 0-5 years of age (Ajayi, 2008). With regards to the difference in the age range of the preschool child as conceptualized by different Early Childhood experts, children of 0-5 years of age are the focus of this study.
Implied from the above, pre-primary education is the care and education given to children in their early childhood of 0-5 years. It is a period when mental development in the area of reading writing and arithmetic’s take place. It is a period when experiences with family members, other adults and peer groups influence the quality of their learning as well as their development. It is in line with this, that the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF, 2003) states that children exposed to early learning are more likely to be productive, law abiding, intelligent, and sociable. It is in recognition of the importance of this level of education by parents that the demand and introduction of pre-primary education in Nigeria emerged.
In view of the above, Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN,2004 11 section 12 and 13) in National Policy on Education gave official recognition to this level of education by articulating its objectives as follows
Effect smooth transition from home to school; prepare the child for primary level of education, provide adequate care and supervision for children while their parents are at work (on the farm, in the market, in the office and so on); inculcate social norms; inculcate the spirit of creativity through exploration of nature, environment, arts, music and playing with toys; develop a sense of co-opertion team spirit; learn good habit especially good health habits and teach rudiment of numbers, letters, colours, shape forms and so on through play.
Implied in this, the purpose of pre-primary education is to take care of the children while their parents are at work and further ease the children’s transition from home to school, thereby reducing traumatic experiences from home to school. To realize these objectives, the Nigerian government promised to take some responsibilities on pre-primary education issues which were articulated in National Policy on Education (FRN,2004, II section 12 subsection 12 and 13) as follows:
- Make provision in teacher education programme for specialization of teachers in early childhood education in adequate number
- Contribute to the development of suitable pre-primary school curriculum.
- Establish pre-primary education in the existing pubic schools and encourage both community/ private efforts.
- Ensure that the medium of instruction is principally the mother tongue or language of the immediate environment
- Produce textbook in Nigerian languages
- Ensure that the main method of teaching at this level shall be through play.
- Develop the orthography of many more Nigerian languages and
- Regulate and control the operation of pre-primary education. to this end, the teacher – pupils ration shall be 1:25.
- Set and monitor minimum standard for early childcare centre in the country and
- Ensure full participation of government, communities and teachers associations in running and maintenance of early childhood education facilities.
Implied from the above, the government promised to take some actions to enhance the achievement of the objectives of this level of education. One of the actions was the production of Early childhood specialist teachers in adequate numbers. The term teacher is a person who shows the learner how to acquire new skills, knowledge and attitudes needed to do something. Webster (2003) defined a teacher as one that teaches, guides, instructs, trains or helps another in the process of learning. A pre-primary education teacher is a person who cares for young children within 0-5 years while teaching them variety of things that target their developmental skills. Such teachers are trained in the theory and practice of early childhood education. The teacher assists the children in the development of social skills, facilitate emotional stability, assist in the development of inquisitiveness and the exploration of their environment. Pre-primary school teacher discharges instructional roles, nurtures, and cares for children with 0-5 years of age. Such teacher identifies children with special needs for early intervention and referral.
Even though, the government promised to train such teachers in adequate numbers, the availability and quality of pre-primary education teachers is doubtful. This is because Pre-primary school administrators do not employ such teachers, rather they employ trained primary school teacher in public schools and even untrained ones in private schools. These teachers are not specialist at these levels and as such need t o be trained to enhance the achievement of objective of this level of education.
Training is the process of teaching a person how to perform a particular task. It is a process of acquiring concepts, knowledge, skills and attitudes that result in better performance in a job. According to Bhatia (2005), training can be in-service or pre-service. Pre-service training is acquired before being employed in a job while in service training is acquired when already employed in a job. In the context of this study, primary school teachers that are teaching pre-primary school children need to be retrained through in-service training as well as those of the private school teachers to enhance the teaching of pre-primary school children. This is because the quality and experiences of a teacher affect the quality of education provided to the children (Onah, 2003). To train these teachers, their training needs ought to be identified.
Training needs are the differences between what the trainees (these teachers) already know and what they are required to know in order to achieve the desired objectives. In the context of this study, these teachers need to be trained in those aspects of pre-primary education theories and practices that were not part of their primary teacher education to enable them implement pre-primary education curriculum effectively. According to Obiweluozo (2011), such teachers need to understand how children develop and learn. This is because most of them do not base their teaching on the principles of early childhood education rather they practice what pleases them in most of our preschools as curriculum contents and methodology.
Curriculum is a document that specifies the different components of teaching and learning such as learning activities (contents), instructional objectives, methodology, materials and assessment techniques. These components guide the teachers in the design, implementation and evaluation of instruction (Chidi, 2011). Pre-primary school curriculum is anchored on the objective of this level of his education. Ibiam (2012) described pre-primary education curriculum as the context and organization of pre-school programme which have much impact on the children’s developmental characteristics such as physical, mental, social and emotional development. In Nigeria, National Education Research and Curriculum Development Centre (NERDC) in collaboration with UNICEF, had developed series of government approved standard curricula for Nigeria pre-primary schools. The present Pre-primary school teachers are neither aware of the existence of those curricula nor have the knowledge of their implementation.
Curriculum implementation is the ability of the teacher to put the curriculum contents and instructional guidelines into practice in the classroom. The teachers need to adopt appropriate methods and materials to guide pupils’ learning while the learners are involved in interaction with the learning activities (Offorma, 2005). In implementing pre-primary school curriculum, the teacher breaks the curriculum into syllabus, scheme of work, unit plan and lesson plan and apply other practices from early childhood teaching models like Montessori, Highscope and Reggio Emilia (Morrison, 2004) as well as the stipulation in both National Policy on Education and National Minimum standard for early child care center. The present preschool teachers do not have some of this knowledge and do anything that pleases them as teaching. In view of this, these teachers need to be retrained to acquire these knowledge.
Curriculum contents are those things or activities that preschool children learn from books, oral instructions and experiences from the environment that target their developmental such as physical, mental, social and emotional skills. According to Morrison (2004), pre-primary school curriculum contents are developed according to children’s ages interest and needs. Instances of these are infant/ toddler, preschoolers
and kindergarten children’s curricula. The present National pre-primary school curriculum guide has up to eight thematic contents for two age cohort, that is for 0-3 years and 3 – 5 years preschoolers. (NERDC/UNICEF, 2004). Most of our preschool teachers lack the knowledge of these contents and as such resort to school-made curricula which have only letters of alphabets and numbers as their content (Ejeh, 2006). These teachers need to be trained to master these contents in order to achieve the objectives of such contents.
Instructional objectives are the expected learning outcomes of particular lessons. Higgins (2003) states that instructional objectives describe the specific behavior preschoolers should perform as evidence of their learning. The objectives come from either the national curriculum developed by producers regarding what preschoolers should be achieving throughout their preschool years or they are set by the teachers. The objectives reflect the three educational domains – cognitive, affective and psychomotor. According to Ejeh, (2006), in most pre-primary schools, their objectives are mainly on cognitive. Preschoolers only memorize and regurgitate facts due to lack of trained preschool teachers.
Teaching methods are those overall procedures teachers employ to achieve the instructional objectives of their lessons. In Nigeria, F.R.N (2004) stipulates that the teaching method at this level should by play way methods and mother tongue as language of instruction. Unfortunately, most of our teachers do not have the knowledge of these policy statements and as such use English which they feel is superior in teaching the preschoolers. They equally use un-interactive method of teaching them (Ejeh, 2006). The teachers need training on these policy statements.
Instructional materials are all the materials a teacher uses to bring out the meanings of all that the teacher is teaching. National Teacher Institute (NTI, 2007) described instructional materials as all the materials teachers use to elucidate the contents of the curriculum. In the National Pre-primary School Curriculum Guide, instructional materials and caring materials are listed against each content. These are for psycho-social and caring materials (NERDC/UNICEF, 2004). The psycho-social materials are for teaching and learning while caring materials are for health, nutrition and protective cares. The teachers need to be trained on the selection and usage of these materials.
Performance assessment/ evaluation is also a component of pre-primary school curriculum. According to Morrison (2004), it is a process of collecting and interpreting the result of various educational objectives in order to ascertain the progresses made by the preschoolers in physical mental, social and emotional skills. It involves the measure of cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains (Gredler, 2009). Assessment is based on the preschoolers’ health, development, learning, behaviours, academics achievement and special needs. Preschool has both formal and informal assessment techniques. The national minimum standard as well as the National pre-primary school curriculum guides prescribed the use of growth monitoring equipment and developmental milestones in assessing the overall development of the preschool child, (NERDC/UNICEF, 2004). With regards to the above, preschool teachers in most schools lack the knowledge of these assessment techniques and the achievement of the learning objectives might be doubtful. In view of this these teachers need to be trained in order to attain the minimum standard.
National minimum standard is a document produced by NERDC in collaboration with UNICEF in 2004 to guide the operation of the care and education of the preschoolers in Nigeria. It contains the guideline for nurturing and educating the children within 0-5 years of age. It is based on integrated Early Childhood Development Policy (IECD). The guideline bordered on the school location, ownership, playground, offices, classroom accommodation, record keeping, daily programmes, qualification of personnel, assessment tools, psycho-social, health, nutritional and protective requirements and materials. (See appendix A page 106). The purpose of the minimum standard is to ensure that quality pre-primary care and education are provided to the preschool child. Unfortunately, our preschool teachers have no knowledge of this due to lack of professional training as well as monitoring by the government. In view of this, the preschool teachers need to be trained on this.
A child is a person who has not attained the age of maturity. In Nigeria legal system, a child is someone who is not up to the age of eighteen years. With regards to this study, the preschool child is the focus. A preschool child is a child between 0 – 5 years of age. The child has not yet attained the legal school year of six years. The preschool child has peculiar characteristics that direct the care and education physically, mentally, socially, emotionally and morally. (Contin, 2000 ).Preschool child as stipulated in NPE, (FRN, 2004) coincides with Piaget pre-operational and part of operational stages as well as Erickson Trust versus mistrust, autonomy versus shame and initiative versus doubt. These developmental stages have implications in the preschool curriculum, its implementations as well as the roles of the caregivers and teachers.
Training needs of teachers for implementation pre-primary school curriculum seem to be influenced by location. Location in this context comprises urban and rural areas. Urban area in this context is an area with high population density of about 5000 people with street pattern, presence of electricity and establishment with at least 1000 employees (Betty, 2005). It has facilities, social amenities and good transportation network. Rural area on the other hand is characterized by low population density, small settlement and agricultural area (Hope, 2011). Teaching in rural areas are faced with challenges in attracting and training teachers and school administrators due to lack of financial resources and issues of long distance transportation (Chigbu, 2012) Teachers are poorly trained and facilities even after training do not meet the minimum standard. This condition discourages poor children attendance and participation in learning activities (Uchendu, 2012) consequently, rural preschool children lack behind their urban counterparts who have more trained teachers, more facilities and other social amenities in physical, cognitive, and social development. This situation could be proved through scientific investigation under this study.
Implied from above are the actions to be taken by the government to ensure the achievement of preschool objectives through pre-primary curriculum component of the curriculum as well as the extent of compliance in the process of implementing the curriculum with a view to achieving the goals of this level of education.
From the foregoing, it could be deduced that even though government made these promises and equally set minimum standard to guide the operation, Maduewesi (2005) noted that pre-primary education in Nigeria received only lip service from the government. This was evidenced by the fact that the government neither monitors the operation of private pre-primary education proprietors nor establishes model pre-primary schools for private proprietors to emulate. It is in this regard that Ejeh (2006) observed that the establishment of preschools was initially left in the hands of private proprietors who employed unqualified teachers, implement non-standard curriculum which its contents are mainly letters of alphabets and numbers. Teachers use poor methods of teaching and stimulating children that are mainly memorization and regurgitation of facts. Teachers fail to use play way methods and mother tongue as stipulated in the NPE (FRN, 2004). As a result of this, pre-primary education in Nigeria being mainly private initiative, the government is powerless to sanction those operators who out-step their bound. In views of this, proprietors operate the system the way they like especially in their mode of curriculum delivery.
However, observation abound that the situation where most pre-primary education institutions are provided by unqualified proprietors, the operations are bound to have some shortcomings. The resultant effect of this is that Nigerian preschoolers are denied their right to care and education in their country which is a signatory to the Convention on the Right of the Child (CRC). Consequently, this situation called for government concern and effort to create quality pre-primary education for all the Nigeria preschoolers. In reaction to this development, the federal government of Nigeria through the Universal Basic Education Act (UBE. Act, 2004) integrated pre-primary education into all the existing public primary schools as promised is the NPE (FRN, 2004) in 2006.
With government’s full participation and ownership of pre-primary education in Nigeria, pre-primary sections were created in public primary schools and trained primary school teachers are placed to teach preschoolers. Observation abound that even though these primary school teachers have NCE, bachelor and even masters’ degree qualifications, their practices seem to be faced with some shortcomings. This was confirmed by the researcher’s observation during the routine evaluation of primary school curriculum implementation in Nsukka L.G.E.A. The observation reveals that none of the preschool teachers are specialist in ECE and use poor methods of stimulating the children. Most schools did not have standard curriculum. Those that had their teachers lacked the knowledge of the implementation as a result of this, teachers teach whatever they liked. Secondly, available literature indicate that these teachers seem to be incompetent as they seem to lack the prerequisite knowledge, skills and attitude needed for this level of education such as knowledge of the curriculum contents, instruction, stating developmental appropriate objectives, instructional materials, methods, and assessment techniques of education (Anyanwu, 2009 and Lanor 2007). In support of this, NTI (2008) noted that these teachers are equally bad examples to the malleable minds and intellect of children they teach. Many of them regard teaching preschoolers as punishment. Some cannot bring themselves low to the ages of these preschoolers. Some are impatient with the children’s hyperactive nature and complain of their cry and changing of diapers and cleaning their mess (Nwaiwu, 2008). In addition, Maduewesi (2005) averred that these teachers are caregivers, and even the proprietors do not have the basic knowledge or qualification in the area of early childhood education. Teachers use poor rearing and stimulation practices in handling the pre-primary children as well as inadequate teaching materials and instructional techniques. Moreover, Obinaju (2010) also indicated that with the new integrated approach to Early Childhood Education, these teachers are not knowledgeable in child developmental milestone and may not be able to monitor and provide optimal development. In addition, Morrison (2004) noted that with great changes and challenges of the 21st century, pre-primary education has changed drastically in what and how children learn from their very early stages. In views of this, these teachers seem to be incompetent in meeting the children’s present needs and as such need to be trained in the current trends in pre-primary education theory and practice. It in line with this that Dike (2009) noted that primary school teachers training did not carter for this level of education and as such these teachers need to be retained.
This current disparity in pre-primary sector caused by disparity in the education provider has always been a source of worry to both national and international organizations like Education Support Sector in Nigeria (ESSPIN), UNICEF, SUBEB as well as the researcher. However, this scenario portends that if this situation is not addressed, pre-primary education curriculum implementation will be left in the hands of unqualified teachers’ without regards to the set standard. The resultant effect might be serious gap in teachers preparation as well as the quality of pre-primary education provided to the Nigerian preschoolers. Therefore, there is need to identify those teachers’, training needs that are required for effective implementation of pre-primary school curriculum and that is the focus of this study.
Statement of Problem
Available literature from both national and international organizations indicate that most teachers placed to teach and implement pre-primary school curriculum in most Pre-primary schools seem to be incompetent. The literature revealed that these teachers might lack the professional knowledge, skills and attitudes needed for this level of education. This was confirmed by the researcher’s observation in the process of carrying out routine evaluation of curriculum implementation in primary school system in Nsukka LG.E.A. The observation revealed that many schools do not have government approved pre-primary school curriculum while those schools that have, the teachers could not implement it even though these teachers are trained primary school teachers in different areas of their specialization with NEC, B.ED and even masters degree, due to lack of early childhood professional knowledge and methodology. Their training did not cater for this level of education. In addition with the current IECD curriculum, these teachers seem to lack the knowledge of child’s psychology which is the basis of the curriculum contents and implementation. These teachers lack the knowledge of play way methods of teaching preschoolers, inadequate use of learning and caring materials, use of inappropriate assessment techniques, poor statement of instructional objectives as well as poor caring attitudes required by these preschoolers). Moreover, with great changes of the 21st century about what and how children learn from their early lives, these teachers seem to be unable to meet their needs especially in the area of curriculum delivery without training them professionally. This indicate that if this situation is not well addressed, there will be gap in the quality of present pre-primary school teachers as well as the quality of pre-primary education provided for their preschoolers. These gaps are the source of worries to the researcher. It is against this backdrops that the researcher seek to proffer solution to the above problem by carrying out scientific investigation to identify those pre-primary education curriculum contents that these teachers need for the effective implementation of pre-primary school curriculum. Therefore, the focus of this study put into question is: what are the “Teacher’ Training Needs for the Implementation of Pre-primary Curriculum?
Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of this study is to determine the Teachers’ Training Needs for the Implementation of Pre-primary school Curriculum in Nsukka education zone, Specifically the study seeks to:
- ascertain teachers training needs for adequate mastery of the government approved pre-primary school curriculum contents.
- find out the teachers’ training needs for stating appropriate instructional objectives for preschoolers.
- obtain the teachers training needs for appropriate use of play way methods of teaching preschoolers.
- investigate the teachers’ training needs for adequate use of instructional materials for preschoolers.
- find out teachers’ training needs for proper use of Pre-primary school caring material
- obtain the teachers’ training needs for proper presentation of preschool lesson.
- obtain the teachers’ training needs for appropriate use of pre-primary assessment techniques.
Significance of the Study
The findings of this study have both theoretical and practical significance. Theoretically, the findings of this study are considered significant as they might give credence to the psycho-social development of Erik Erickson. This theory is based on the fact that both cognitive and social development of an individual are inseparable. That development of an individual is in stages and each stage is defined by a role conflict. These role conflicts determine the curriculum frame works and implementation strategies of different stages of children such as infants/toddler, preschoolers and kindergarten children.
Practically, the findings of this study will be very useful to many individuals. These include the preschoolers, parents, teachers/ caregivers, head teacher supervisors, pre-primary curriculum developers, planners of pre-primary education curriculum, school administrators and policy makers. Preschoolers are the primary beneficiaries of the findings of this study. This is because any efforts made to improve the quality of teachers invariably improve the quality of their learning outcomes. This will go a long way in laying solid foundation for their future learning. The pre-primary school teachers/caregivers are the sole interpreters and implementers of preprimary school curriculum contents. The findings of this study will furnish them with adequate knowledge of the curriculum contents; statements of developmentally appropriate instructional objectives, appropriate use of developmentally appropriate teaching methods, materials, assessment techniques and other preschool pedagogies.