Early childhood education in Nigeria: issues and problems
Education is Nigeria has come a long way in the past few decades. Nevertheless, it is still riddled with issues and problems. One of the most vulnerable areas is the early childhood education in Nigeria. But why? What is happening to it? Find out what is wrong with the early childhood education as we recount the many problems of education in Nigeria.
What is early childhood education?
For those who do not know, early childhood education is the education that is offered to children who are too young to go to primary school. Most of the time, this involves a range of play-like activities that prepare children as young as three for their education in a primary school.
The main objectives of early childhood education are:
- Making it easier for the children to move on from being at home to going to school.
- Preparing kids for primary education in terms of knowledge and skills.
- Teaching children the social norms, fostering good health habits.
- Encouraging and fostering creativity.
- Developing a sense of unity and cooperation among the kids.
- Providing supervision and care for kids while their parents are busy.
In an ideal situation, early childhood education can be a perfect tool that serves as a healthy transition from early childhood to the first steps of being a grownup. However, early childhood education in Nigeria is far from perfect.
Problems of early childhood education in Nigeria
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As a whole, Nigerian education has struggled to find its footing since the first years of Nigeria’s independence. The transition from being a colony to an independent country had a significant effect on all areas of life, but it effected education the most.
Over the years, many of the problems in education have been addressed in one way or another. Nevertheless, early childhood education still has many issues and challenges.
Let’s consider each of them in turn:
As the nation grew, so did the demand for early education institutions. In the last decade or so, a lot of early education institutions have emerged. However, quantity does not equal quality. That is why many of these institutions cannot offer quality services. The education they provide is irregular and substandard, and the care for the children is often unsatisfactory.
One of the biggest problems in today’s early childhood education in Nigeria is the lack of qualified teachers. Many early education institutions severely underpay their staff, which negatively affects the employment rates. Those teachers that agree to the low pay are often unqualified for the task at hand.
Of course, there is always an option of a private nursery school. They employ teachers that actually have the proper qualifications and the level of professionalism. Nevertheless, not that many people can afford to pay the tuition fees. Therefore, they have no choice but to deal with subpar learning conditions for their child.
But wait, there is more:
Most of the early childhood education institutions do not only provide mediocre education, but they also cannot offer decent care for children. As we have mentioned before, many teachers are not exactly qualified for their positions. This means that many of them do not know how to deal with kids at all, especially with children as young as three years old.
In addition to that, barely any early childhood education institutions have enough staff to handle the children. The approved ratio of teacher to pupil is 1:25. For many institutions, this ratio is not very beneficial, which is why the classes are overpopulated, and many kids do not receive the attention they deserve.
At the same time, this problem lies deeper, as not that many people want to pursue a profession in early childhood education in the first place. They see how bad things are, so they settle for something more stable and profitable.
And that is not all:
Another issue that might seem minor to some but very important to others is the implementation of native tongues into early childhood education. Most of the institutions operate using English only, and it is understandable. However, children would benefit from learning more about their native languages.
One of the main reasons why the situation with early childhood education is so unsatisfactory is the lack of effective supervision of institutions that provide early childhood education. Technically, nursing schools and other similar institutions have to be visited by officials from the Ministry of Education prior to their opening and checked regularly afterwards. In reality, this rarely happens, so there is little to no quality control.
The biggest issue, in fact, lies in the negligence from the Nigerian government. While it did facilitate the opening of many early childhood education institutions across the country, it did not provide them with enough resources. Additionally, it does not provide any incentives for people to work at these institutions, so the salaries remain low. This, of course, does not motivate anyone to work there, and the circle closes.
Let’s sum it all up. The main issues of early childhood education in Nigeria are:
- Lack of qualified staff in many early childhood education institutions, which affects the quality of provided services.
- Exclusion of native tongues from the curriculum.
- Little to no supervision of new and existing institutions.
- Disinterest in early childhood education from the Nigerian government.
As you can see, all of these problems can be remedied in time, provided enough resources and interest in these issues. Who knows, maybe in a few years Nigerian children will be able to receive affordable quality early childhood education.
The importance of education for children cannot (and should not) be overlooked. After all, children are the future of the nation, and we would not want to leave the country in the hands of the uneducated youth. Therefore, these problems need to be dealt with as soon as possible, so that our kids could get the quality education they deserve.
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