Stakeholders point to the need for an overhaul of the early childhood education system

Education sector stakeholders under the umbrella of the Early Childhood Association of Nigeria have called on federal and state governments to revamp the early childhood education system in the country.

Stakeholders noted that the early childhood education system serves as the foundation for higher education of citizens

The association said so in a statement issued after the 13th Annual National Conference of the Early Childhood Association of Nigeria, titled Ogun 2022, held in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State.

The association has advised governments at all levels to engage in initiatives to reposition the education of children.

In the statement signed by its National President, Prof. Esther Oduolowu and National Secretary, Dr. Olabisi Adedigba, the association lamented that insecurity has disrupted children’s learning in the country.

The statement reads in part as follows: “The government should take concrete steps to reposition the security architecture to reduce the tide of insecurity in the country in general and to protect the lives of schoolchildren.

“The Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development should strive to reach homes and children with traumatic fears to provide therapeutic messages and relevant resources that can ease their fear.

“Schools must be repositioned to manage security by equipping themselves with the necessary security gadgets and infrastructure such as school surveillance cameras (CCTV and drone camera), rapid response telephone services, entrance control equipment, a emergency alert system, trained security personnel and closed perimeter fences.

“The government should specifically target families with children in the early childhood stage with its current social development and welfare programs to reduce the effect of the current difficult economic situation on families, to ensure meeting the daily maintenance needs of their children.”

ECAN however urged parents, carers and international organizations to support the Nigerian government.

A one-day training workshop was also held for preschool and primary school teachers in Ogun State on writing skills, creative writing, producing teaching materials and Jolly Phonics.

Speaking at the conference, the Ogun State Government reiterated its commitment to strengthening early childhood education in the state.

Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Professor Abayomi Arigbabu who spoke on the topic; “Repositioning Early Childhood Education to Address National Emergencies” highlighted the essence of early childhood education.

The commissioner disclosed that the state government is revamping the education sector.

He said, “Early childhood education is the foundation on which all education for sustainable development rests.

“A child’s chances of realizing their potential are affected by this level of education.

“In this period, when the education sector needs a total overhaul, as we have noticed in Ogun State, we have put in place what we call the education revitalization program of Ogun State. We are trying to revitalize the education sector.

Professor Arigbabu also called on stakeholders concerned with early childhood education to join the government, adding that the state government will implement the outcomes of the conference.

In her welcoming remarks, the chair of the occasion, Dr. Opeyemi Shoaga, pointed out that the sector is not yet settled after the COVID-19 pandemic.

She noted that “the conference was organized to inspire experts to think about early childhood education.”

Also in a keynote address, UNICEF (Abuja) Education Specialist Ms. Yetunde Oluwatosin suggested solutions to close the learning gap among children.

Oluwatosin suggested that integrating early childhood education; capacity building for education officials; appropriate curriculum; mobilizing partnerships and innovative solutions could help reduce the child education gap.

Meanwhile, ECAN National President, Prof. Oduolowu, in her opening remarks, noted that the conference aims to share knowledge on parenting.

She added that a statement would be issued after the event and would be recommended to the state government.