Tuesday, 23 August 2011




Fowowe S.S
Department of Early Childhood Education
AOCOED, Lagos-Nigeria

The nation’s educational reforms include ones that affect children’s Head Start. The nascent educational reform (ECCE) should be made to have the highest impact on children’s achievement and should be guided adequately with a more challenging and rigorous curriculum which emphasizes good nutrition, psychosocial, stimulation, healthy and safe environment, elementary science, literacy and numeric skills.  The paper therefore conceives Early Childhood Education as a community of efforts required to ensure a child’s head start in life and the one that lays the foundations for a life of learning.  The objectives of ECCE and certain issues that constituted barriers to successful implementation of its curriculum have equally   been examined.  The paper concludes by stating that every Nigerian child should have access to this foundation education irrespective of location, sex and social background. Keywords: ECCE,  IECD Curriculum, Score card, policy document and learning plus.

In all the human existence, no matter the location or period, and even in different stages of development, people have always cared for the survival of the young child. This effort has always involved ensuring the young ones all round development and their harmonious fitting into wider society (Obanya 2007; Fowowe 2010).
          Today, things have even changed, experience from research and practice has influenced the formalization of early childhood care and education (Maduekwezi 2005). For example, there is a global increase in the incidence of one-parent families and other matters relating to family disorderliness. The participation of women in the labour force has also been on the increase which greatly has affected the demand for Early Childhood Education even in Nigeria.   To corroborate this development, Olmsted and Welkart (1989) have this to say:
Matters are further complicated by the increasing urbanization of developing countries and the high degree of urbanization in developing countries and of family mobility in developing countries. At the same time, a small but growing body of research is demonstrating the long-term of high quality pre-school programmes and thus creating a wide-spread awareness of the importance of the early years in a child’s life.

What precisely is Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE)?
Despite its short epistemology existence, ECCDE has acquired quite a variety of names with complementary acronyms to match.  Each name betrays different emphasis and sometimes different contexts of usage.  In the literature, it may be called Early Childhood Care Development and Education (ECCDE), or Early Education, Care and Development (EECD) and sometimes, it is referred to as Early Childhood Education (ECE) or Early Childhood Development and Education (ECDE). In Nigeria and some other developing countries however, the preferred name is Integrated Early Childhood Development (IECD) because, the National Policy on it is entitled “The National Policy for Integrated Early Childhood Development“ (Oguntuashe 2010; & FGN 2005).  With this title now (IECD), which is to be used henceforth in this paper, emphasis will be on the integrated nature of the programme. However, whichever name a country choose, it is important to note that, IECD is a multidisciplinary enterprise with components from infant stimulation, Health, Nutrition, Psychology, Sociology, Economic, Laws, Anthropology, Gender studies, Women Development, Child Development, Home Economics, Language and Mathematics (Fowowe 2010; Oguntuase 2010)
          According to Mishra (2008), Early Childhood Care and Education (ECC) refers to a wide range of programemes, all aimed at the physical, cognitive and social development of children before they enter primary school – theoretically from birth to about age 7 or 8. From the above statement, it is clear that Nigeria has accepted to contribute to good child development outcomes that set the foundation for lifelong learning and to equally help in the monitoring of health and nutrition status of the child during this critical period of development.  This is in line with the objectives of ICED as s contained in the Federal Republic of Nigeria document (FRN 2007:4);
(a)      Provide care and support that will ensure the rights of the child to:
(i)      Good nutrition and health;
(ii)     Healthy and safe environment;
(iii)       Psycho-social stimulation;
(iv)        Protection and participation; 
(b)         Inculcate in the child the spirit of enquiry and creating through the exploration of nature, the environment, art, music and playing with toys etc; and
(c)          Provide adequate care and supervision for the children, while parents/guardians are at work (on the farms, in the markets, offices, industry etc).  

Early Childhood Care and Education are given in Day Care centers, Nursery and Kindergarten Schools.  Though, Individuals and religious bodies have once constituted the single most important proprietorship until recently in 2004, when Lagos state government blazed the trail by establishing Day care centers and Nursery section[Linkage classes] as part of the existing public primary schools(Adebiyi 2010)

Early Child Care Development and Education (ECCDE) Programmes; Efforts so far
The successful implementation of the Integrated Community Health Development (ICHD) and the Primary Health Care (PHC) programmes in Nigeria helped in reducing child morality rates and ensuring the survival and promotion of other efforts geared towards child care and development.  Such efforts were aimed at providing conducive atmosphere for the optimal attainment of the educational potentials of children hence, making the education of the young children in Nigeria then a priority attention.  In 1986, the Federal Government and the United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in collaboration with Bernard Van Leer of the Netherlands had a Cooperation agreement for the uplift of the situation of children in Nigeria and the ECCDE programme which the Nigeria Education Research and Development Council (NERDC) as the Federal Government’s implementation agency, Piloted in 1987 in five local government areas (Maduewezi 2005).
          The aim of ECCDE programme was the total development, care, and early stimulation of children aged 0-8 years, especially those in disadvantaged and low socio-economic strata.  The main objective was to provide access for ECC/Pre-school education of Nigerian Children as well as improve children-rearing skills of mothers.  The ECCDE programme is community-based, low-cost and affordable. It utilizes relevant local resources and the inter-sectoral approach as a strategy for its implementation.  The first phase of the project terminated in 1990 and the second phase covered the period 1991-1995 and covered to UNICEF assisted states (Nwagbara 2003).
During the second phase, ECCDE program became recognized under the umbrella of the Basic Education program, an aftermath of the Education For All Conference and the Jomtien World Summit for Children in 1990. At the point of transition from one phase to the next, there was physical expansion of the programme.  The five pilot local government areas that were covered in the first phase of the project expanded to 59 local government areas (LGAs) during the second phase.  During the 1997-2001 phases, it was expected that there will be further expansion on a nationwide coverage to include greater number of disadvantaged children such as children in Koranic schools, home-based children in regular primary schools and other identified specific groups.  Emphasis was on Early Childhood Care (ECC) in all its ramifications and the main objective was: To increase access to early child stimulation for children under 6 years through parental education, community/NGO initiatives and inter-sectoral linkages.
          For the new FGN/UNICEF country programme of Cooperation between 2002-2007, more emphasis is given to survival growth and development in early childhood care. The new Country programme goals are to protect the rights of Nigerian children and women, hence, enhancing the capacity of both government and civil society to ensure that Nigeria Children have the best possible prospects for survival, growth, development, protection and participation (Obanya 2007).
          NERDC, as the lead agency on ECCDE in Nigeria, has reviewed the curricula in line with the new integrated approach, also, develop Users Guide to the Curricular, carried out inventorisation of ECC models/facilities in Nigeria and documented key household practices. This effort provided the necessary information to improve ECC practices and dialogue on policy drive by stakeholders and the general public equally encouraged the pre-primary school linkages the more access and services for children, and also for positive interventions in ECE programmes (Akinware 2010).

Achievement under the ECCDE Programme
Many scholars such as: Oguntuase 2010; Akinware 2010; Nwagbara 2003, Onifade 2010 have reported the achievement of ECCDE programme in Nigeria. They are listed below:
  • Guidelines for establishment of ECC Centre/Resource Training Centre have been developed;
  • A curriculum titled The ECCDE Curriculum was produced by NERDC and approved by the National Council on Education (NCE) in 1994;
  • Based on the curriculum, about twenty-eight titles of pre-school Readers for different age-ranges have been produced and distributed in ECC Centres and nursery schools to assist the child in learning;
  • A Handbook for care-givers has been produced – Caring for the African Child
  • Training manual/Guides for lead trainers, child educators and caregivers (in collaboration with the Regional Resource and Training Centre (RTRC), Kenya Institute of Education such as the modules on Child Development, Child Health, Food and Nutrition, ECCDE Childhood Resource Centre, Learn AS you Play, Supervision of Services for Children and so on;
  • A textbook on Child Development Health and Nutrition in Nigeria was produced as a learning material for education, health and social services professionals;
  • Survey reports on child rearing practices in 5 pilot states and 10 UNICEF assisted states have been written;
  • ECCDE concepts have been infused into curriculum of Colleges of Education and ECC is now offered as courses at the undergraduate and post graduate levels of some universities in Nigeria;
  • An Anthology of Nigeria songs, stories, games, poems, riddles and tongue twisters for children has been produced in form of Handbook for parents and Caregivers though,(Awaiting publication);
  • Development of a Child Assessment Instrument (Awaiting Standardization), and
  • Posters on Child Stimulation and Educational Development (CSED) have been produced and disseminated to ECC Centers and nursery schools.
This programme has been able to reach the wider society through the social mobilization and awareness campaigns; workshops and seminars for trainers and caregivers as well as advocacy workshops for policy makers. Others are: mobilization of Women NGOs and community leaders for ECCDE; radio and television jingles on ECCDE; and distribution of ECC posters.  A total of 9,836 low cost community ECCDE facilities including classrooms have been established in 2 project sites for a total   of 400,000 children. Health and Nutrition Services, including dental care, developing and growth monitoring services were provided for at least 12,000 of these children. A total of 1,056 trainers/desk officers and supervisors, 15,409 daycare givers and 1,232 para-teachers/instructors were all given training from 1991-1999 (Oguntuase 2010).
          The program has expanded from 5 pilot LGAs in 5 states to 59 LGAs in 13 states of the Federation.  Community participation and involvement have given hope for sustainability and improvement of early childcare.  In addition to the above, an Early Year Development Consultative Committee was established in August, 2002 to start the course of development and improvement of ECC in Nigeria.  Furthermore, ECC Inventoris
ation instruments have also been produced by NERDC to carry out a nationwide research survey on ECC models/facilities in Nigeria and document key household practices (FGN 2007).

Early Childhood Education Curriculum
          According to Nwagbara (2003), there have been very striking developments on educational curriculum since political independence in Nigeria, most especially in the area of pre primary education.  Nigeria has its 1st primary school in 1843, its first secondary school in 1859, its first agricultural school in 1876 and its first Teacher Training College in 1876 (Adegoke 1999).  Surprisingly, the first official pronouncement on pre-primary education was expressed in the revised National Policy on Education (revised 1998 and 2004). 
          It has however, not been a case of total lethargy on the part of Nigerian society as some concerned people for a long time before the official pronouncement has been able to provide Day Care centres, though called different names: “Otaakara,” “Jelosimi” and ‘bargida etuta’’ respectively in Igbo and Yoruba and Hausa parlance (Obanya 2007). However, the commitment of government at this stage  eventually necessitated the  compilation of a national curriculum meant for the country.
          Maduewezi (2005) says the ECCDE curriculum was developed by the National Council of Education NCE, in 1994, as a policy document, and afterwards, there have been two different curricula for Early Childhood Education in Nigeria.  The first was the Curriculum Guidelines for Nigerian pre-primary (Nursery Schools) jointly published by NERDC/Evans Publishers (1988). The second one is the Early Child Care Development and Education (ECCDE) Curriculum published by NERDC/UNICEF (Nwagbara 2003), which has recently been reviewed to accommodate emergent global issues in line with democratic principles of human right (Oguntuase 2010).

Teacher and Curriculum Implementation
Curriculum is the traditional platform for translating expectation of the society into knowledge, attitudes and skills that are expected to be developed or acquired by learners within the school system in formal and non-formal settings (Okebukola 2004). Teacher and quality curriculum have been identified as the most important organizational factors associated with learners’ achievement. Though, it has been very difficult to measure and monitor but it should be noted  that how teachers are prepared for teaching is a critical indicator of curriculum quality, hence, preparing teachers for the challenges of a changing world means equipping them with quality and contemporary curriculum, effective teaching practices, an understanding of the use of modern technologies and the ability to work collaboratively with other teachers, members of the community and parents.  These synergic efforts will help to realize and promote the national educational goals (Mishra 2008). 
Curriculum of Colleges of Education and faculties of Education in the Universities are so prepared to cater for the education of students for 3 years and 4 years respectively in these three focal area;.
(i)        Content knowledge – This aspect dwells on the knowledge of the subject matter or the contents of the teaching subject.
(ii)       Pedagogical Content knowledge – It deals with the knowledge of the art of teaching and equally involves the knowledge of how to teach content, usually taught during subject methodology classes such as Mathematics methods, language method or science method. Infact, it is the bridge between content and pedagogy.
(iii)      Pedagogical knowledge – It is the knowledge of the art of teaching, that is, the principles of teaching such as how to use the teaching technologies, ask questions, develop lesson plan/notes, evaluation techniques and other learning plus (Security, Psycho social, health, nutrition etc)

Curriculum Implementation
It is the process of translating the objectives of the curriculum from paper to practice and this process begins when learners have been exposed to the learning experiences prescribed in the document. According to Okebukola (2004), the intermediate steps include teaching work in laboratories, workshops, and crèches and in the field, student-student interactions, student- material interaction. Also, the evaluation and assessment revolving round this dictum must be followed;      Al do something
                                                                             Some can do few l can
                                                                                            ; while     
                                                                                    few can do all.

 Features of ECCE Curriculum
According to Agusiobo (2001), the curriculum at this level is non-formal and its purpose is to guide and help teachers, caregivers and parents in the development of the whole child, thus, making it easier for formal teaching which will take place at later stages.  The ultimate focus is to develop certain basic skills or behaviour which will provide readiness as well as a comprehensive vision of support for child development, encompassing teaching practices, relationship with parents and connectionism with other community agencies and institutions (NERDC/UNICEF 1994).
Curriculum at this level is to arrest the problems of early child care development and education and brings the curriculum within the reach of the majority of Nigerian children, particularly those in the rural and low socio-economic urban areas (State Department Education 1993).
Also, the curriculum for the children should be developed to create awareness, promote positive attitudes, interest and orientations in parents and caregivers who would enhance the holistic (Physical, health, cognitive, language, emotional, social skills creative) development of the Nigerian child, irrespective of his residence and sex. 

Nigeria’s Scores-card on (ECCDE)
Oguntuase (2010:6) and Akinware (2010:9) identify the following Nigeria’s achievements in ECD:
1.             Baseline Surveys carried out in 19 out of 36 states.
2.            Textbook on ECD produced with an accompanying simplified text on “Caring for the African Child”. 
3.            Development of Growth Monitoring Chart.
4.            Development of Chart on Child Stimulation for Development.
5.            Development of a 23 page pre-school reader series.
6.            Inventory and Publication of ECD Facilities and Key Household practice (KHP) in Nigeria.
7.            Establishment of ECD centers in ALL states of the Federation.
8.            Development and production of National Minimum Standards for ECD centres by (NERDC/UNICEF in 2004)
9.            Development and Production of ECD Curriculum NERDC/UNICEF)
10.         Development of ECD Curriculum for in-services Teacher Training (National Teachers Institute).
11.          Inclusion of IECD principles, theories and practices in the ECCE Curriculum of Colleges of Education (COE)
12.         Establishment of IECD Minimum Standards for Colleges of Education by the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE)
13.         Creation of IECD centers for children age 3-5 years in existing public schools in the 2004 National Policy on Education.
14.         Development of an Anthology of Tradition Songs, Poems, Lyrics, Stories, etc in different Nigeria Languages (NERDC/UNICEF). Although developed in 2001, publication in still being awaited!
15.         Establishment of Early years Development Consultative Committee (EYDCC) at National and State levels for planning, implementation and monitoring purposes.
16.         Development of IECD Caregiver Training Manual by NERDC/UNICEF in 2006.
17.         Empowerment of SUBEBS through provision of infrastructure, equipment and capacity building of personnel.
18.         Adoption of National Policy on IECD in November, 2007.
19.         Development of Guidelines for the Implementation of National Policy on IECD (FME/UNICEF) in press.
20.        Establishment of a National Resource Centre for IECD in Abuja.

Challenges facing the Implementation of IECD Curriculum – The present curriculum in use in the Nigeria pre-primary educational system rates as well as those in uses in any developed country of the world. The problem with our programme is, therefore not with quality of the document but with its manner of implementation[Akinware,2010].
According to Oguntuase (2010), the major impediments to successful implementation of IECD curriculum is the perennial lack of political will to remain true and faithful to National policies or international agreements and conventions.  Other hindrances as espoused in FGN (2008) are listed below:
1.             Lack of synergy among relevant stakeholders as resulting in instituting constraints and role conflict.
2.            Scarcity of current reliable data on quality issues
3.            Relative lack of awareness of the policy even by Policy makers themselves at National, State and Local Government levels.
4.            Relative lack of understanding about the importance of the Policy about individual and national development
5.             Severe shortage of funds which negatively affect its implementation.
6.            Establishment of ECD Centers to accommodate the teeming millions of children in desperate need of material, emotional, nutritional and stimulation care.  For children between 3 and 5 years alone, the expected enrolment is 22 million, whereas the actual is 2.02 million leaving a shortfall of 19.88 million out of school.  If we factor in children between birth and 3 years, then the figure of excluded children becomes really staggering.

Factors taken into consideration in the Development of IECD Curriculum
According to Nwabara (2003), the following factors should be considered before developing IECD curriculum;
  • The characteristics of Nigerian children vis-à-vis our cultural diversity;
  • The use of the mother tongue or the langueage of the immediate environment as the medium of instruction;
  • Utilization of local resources such as folktales, traditional games, songs and toys for relevance and effectiveness;
  • Integration of nursery education into the primary education structure; and
  • The peculiar environment of the Nigerian child

The curriculum should be mentally compartmentalized into two important parts, which are:-
(i)                   the physical development of the child and;
(ii)                 Child stimulation.

The aspects of the curriculum that deal with physical development highlights  important aspects in the growth and development of the child such as childhood diseases and disabilities, detailed foods and nutrition, hygiene and harmful traditional practices, etc.  The area of the curriculum that centers on child stimulation highlighted the following – stimulation of the physical domain, mental and language development, emotional and social development as well as creativity.
          In summary, these two compartments cater for the:
(a)      Physical
(b)     Socio-emotional
(c)      Intellectual
(d)     Aesthetics and
(c)      Special needs of the child.
For the various variables, definite and dynamic objectives are set, selection of learning experiences or content is made and strategies and materials for attainment of objectives are identified and described and expectations are defined in terms of evaluation and outcomes.

Education is an indispensable tool in the integration of an individual into the societyssss irrespective of the age, location and social background, because it enlightens, liberates and prepares one for useful living in the society.  To this end, all hands must be on deck to ensure the full implementation of the curriculum of IECD at all levels.

(i)       Regular professional class teachers need to develop positive attitude towards the education of the children. 
(ii)     Government should ensure the full implementation of the various policies on IECD.
(iii)   As no Educational system can rise above the number and quality of its teachers, it s imperative to embark on a massive training of ECD teachers as was done under the Universal Primary Education (UPE) programme by some States and also as done by the Federal Government of Nigeria in the eighties when they desperately needed to train Guidance Counsellors for the School System.
(iv)    The prestige of the teaching profession particularly at the Pre-school level (3-5years) and below it (birth-3 years) should be boosted by funding the training and continuous professional in-service training of teachers at Government expense.  It is equally important to carve out a career structure from them and create an attractive salary scale which will provide incentives that would retain the best minds in the profession.
(v)      Strategies should be put in place to ensure that it is not those students who cannot secure admission into other Faculties that end up in the Faculties of Education in the Universities or College of Education to study Early Child Care Education   (Oguntuase 2010);
(vi)    Efforts should be intensified to mobilize support for enrolment of children into ECD programmes both in urban and rural parts of the country.  This should be done without prejudice to gender, religion, physical attributes, economic circumstances and other factors which normally lead to exclusion such as HIV/AIDS. Provision of one good meal per day at school as it was done for PES students by COMPASS between 2005-2008 in the three colleges of Education in Nigeria (Lagos, Nassarawa and Kano).
(vii)  Government, college and University managements should do the selection into teacher education to teach individuals that CAN, ABLE and WILLING.


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