promoting early childhood care and education in

Dr. Emmanuel Ojameruaye
Vice President, Research & Program Development
International Foundation for Education & Self-Help (IFESH)
Scottsdale, Arizona State, U.S.A.
*A keynote presentation made during the launching of the ECE program of Urhobo
League of St. Louis, Missouri on July 24, 2010
What is Early Childhood Care and
Education (ECCE)?
•ECCE is care and education of children from birth to primary
school age (i.e. to age 6 or 8). It covers children’s survival,
growth, development and learning -including health, nutrition
and hygiene, and cognitive, social, physical and emotional
development – from birth to entry into primary school in
formal, informal and non-formal settings
•ECCE covers very diverse arrangements, from parenting
programs to community-based child care, center-based
provision and formal pre-primary education, often in school
•ECCE programs typically aim at two age groups: a) children
under 3 years; and b) children from age 3 to primary school
(usually by age 6, and always by age 8)
Why ECE – The Case for ECE
•ECCE is a right, recognized in the Convention on the Rights of the Child which has
been ratified by almost all countries of the world.
•Early Childhood is a time of remarkable brain development that lays the
foundation for later learning. Children with access to ECCE generally perform
better in primary and secondary schools, and perhaps at the tertiary level and
later in life.
•ECCE can significantly improve the well-being of children, especially in developing
•ECCE is socially cost-effective in the long-term: it is more cost-effective to
institute preventive measures and support children early on in life than to
compensate for disadvantage as they grow older.
•Affordable and reliable childcare provides essential support for working parents,
especially mothers, and enhances women empowerment and household income
and welfare.
•Investment in ECCE yields very high economic returns, offsetting disadvantage
and inequality, especially for children from poor families
Global Situation of ECC
•The youngest children have been neglected the world over in terms of care and
learning. Many countries have no formal programs for children under 3 years.
•Most OECD countries have at least two years of free pre-primary education
• Although enrollment in pre-primary education has tripled since 1970, it remains
very low in most of the developed world.
•Among the developing countries, Latin America (60.8%), the Caribbean (100%)
and the Pacific (72% have the highest pre-primary gross enrollment ratios.
Regionally, sub-Saharan Africa has the lowest rate of 12.4% below Arab States at
15.7% and Central Asia at 26.9%.
•The private sector is prominent in sub-Saharan Africa, Arab States , the
Caribbean and East Asia in the provision of ECCE.
Global Situation of ECC -cont
•There are large disparities within countries. Children from poorer
and rural households have less access to ECCE than those from
richer and urban households
•The children most likely to benefit from ECCE programs – the poorare the least likely to be enrolled
•ECCE staff in many developing countries have minimal (often
inadequate or none) education and pre-service training, and are
often poorly remunerated
•Governments accord relatively low priority to pre-primary
education in their spending
•ECCE is not a priority for most donor agencies. Most allocate less
than 2% of what they give for primary education to ECCE
Best Practice in ECCE: What works well
• An approach the combines nutrition, health, care and education
is more effective in improving children welfare than limiting
interventions to one.
•An approach that builds on traditional childcare practices,
respect for children’s linguistic and cultural diversity, and
mainstream children with special education needs and
•Mother tongue programs are more effective than those in
official (non-mother tongue) languages.
•An approach based reasonable working conditions such as low
child/staff ratio (less than 15:1), good rooms, and adequate
materials including play materials (such as toys) that will enhance
interaction between the children and the ECCE staff.
Critical Success Factors for an ECCE Program
• High level political support
• National ECCE Policy specifying roles and responsibilities of key players
and budgetary commitments across sectors and levels of government.
•Increased and better-targeted public funding of ECCE, with particular
attention to poor children in urban and rural areas and children with
•Inclusion of ECCE in key government documents such as the
national/state/local government plans, budget and education plan.
•Increased allocation of funds to ECCE programs by donor agencies and
the private sector
•Well-enforced national quality standards covering public and private
provision for all age groups
•Strong partnerships between government and the private sector
•ECCE staffing. Access to appropriate training, quality standards and
remuneration that retains trained staff; continuity in staffing.
• Age-appropriate curriculum.
• Parental and community involvement
•Supervision, quality control and regulation by government
• Studies have shown that many parents in Nigeria do not value pre-primary
school education due to distrust, poor quality, high cost and the notion that the
child must be close to the warmth of the mother before primary school age
• Under Nigeria’s 1998 National Policy on Education, ECE was labeled as preprimary education and defined as “education given to children aged 3 to 5 plus
years prior to their entering primary school”. The policy document states the
objectives of pre-primary education in the country and measures to ensure their
• However, very little has been done so far to realize the objectives other than the
1991- 1995 and 1997-2001 FGN/UNICEF Cooperative Agreement in basic
Education through which UNICEF provided assistance to some states for ECCE
activities. Under this program, about 2,045 low-cost ECCE centers were
established in 12 states catering for only 174,748 children aged between 3 and 5
years out an estimated population of over 25 million children below the age of 6
years in the country.
• The GFN/UNICEF ECCE program is an example of best practice that needs to be
replicated throughout the country. The centers are run with NGOs and combine
education for children with lessons on health and education, nutrition and
sanitation for their mothers
According to UNICEF
• “Though appreciable progress has been made in early childhood care and
education in the past four years due to government policy requiring every
public school to have a pre-primary school linkage, the proportion of children
enrolled in pre-primary Early Childhood Care Centres still remains low at
approximately 2.3 million children. This represents about 21 per cent of the
population of children in this age group”.
• The caregivers of these centers are generally unqualified: about 85 per cent
do not possess basic qualifications and more than half have no formal
• Another major issue in Nigeria’s early childhood care and development is the
poor state of the infrastructure, equipment, facilities and learning resources.
Essential learning resources are lacking in most facilities while the national
curriculum is not yet widely operational.
• Mainstreaming of the early childhood education course into pre-service
teacher training from the 2008/2009 session is expected to provide strategic
solutions to some of the itemised problems.
Eijieh (2006) and Ajayi (2008) have identified some of
the challenges to ECCE in Nigeria to include the
• The “teacher factor”: lack of trained teachers in ECCE,
few universities offering training in ECCE, etc
• The high pupil/teacher syndrome: The national policy
on ECE stipulates 25:1 which is considered too high. In
most countries, it is less than 15: 1
• Issue of minimum standard and lack of standard
• The use of mother tongue as a medium of instruction
in ECE
• Funding of ECE program
• Supervision of ECE programs in Nigeria
ECCE in Urhoboland in Nigeria
1 =Abia
2= Akwa
ECCE in Urhoboland
• Urhoboland has a population of about 2.5m over an area of about
5,000 sq. km. Of the 2.5m people, about 500,000 are children
below 6 years, and less than 10% of these (50,000) have access to
• Although there are a few small towns (Sapele, Ughelli, and parts of
Warri metropolis), much of urhoboland is rural.
• Relatively well-served by educational institutions. Has 3
universities, 2 colleges of education, 3 polytechnics, about 250
secondary schools and 1,000 primary schools.
• Poor quality of education.
• Increased income inequality –about 90% of the wealth of
Urhoboland is controlled by about 10% of population.
• Widespread poverty and youth restiveness
• High unemployment, especially among school leavers and
graduates resulting in increasing criminality, deviant behavior,
devaluation of dignity of labor, lack of self-respect and value
ECCE in Urhoboland - cont
• Standard ECCE programs are almost not available. The existing
Dare Care centres and Nursery Schools are privately owned and
managed and they are located mainly in the urban areas. The
quality of these centers and schools is very appalling.
• There are virtually no Dare Care centers or Nursery schools in
most of the rural areas.
• Thus children from the rural areas and other poor ones in urban
areas who do not have access to ECCE are seriously
disadvantaged and tend to perform poorly in primary and
secondary schools, thereby perpetuating the existing inequality in
• Neither the federal, state or local governments are support ECCE
• It is left to the private sector and private voluntary organizations
to change the pathetic situation of ECCE in Urhoboland
• Helping to provide infrastructure (hardware) for conducive learning
environment for children, e.g. block of 3 classrooms with toilets,
furniture, playground and play facilities (About N10m or $67,000 is
required to provide infrastructure for pre-school in a village)
• Provision of software for ECCE, such a children books, writing and
coloring materials, toys, charts, posters, TLMs, etc.
• Collect and ship donated “software” from the US to Urhoboland.
About $20,000 required for shipping, port clearance, local
transportation and distribution.
Training of ECCE teachers – award of scholarships for pre-service
and in-service training of ECCE teachers, sponsoring on inservice/continuing professional development for ECCE teachers,
holding of seminars and workshops
• Sensitization, capacity building and support of local communities
and local entrepreneurs to establish and run ECCE centers.
• Lobbying, advocacy and putting pressure on local and international
donors, private companies, governments and legislatures (fed, state
and local), to support or establish ECE centers in Urhoboland, pass
legislation on ECCE, establish grants to support LGC and CBOs or
local entrepreneurs to establish and run ECCE centers.
• Holding government authorities accountable for support and
establishing/running ECCE centers, or recruiting and paying
teachers. Each LGC should be required to establish a given number
ECCE centers in a a year. Each LGA must prepare an ECCE plan.
• During the annual conventions of UPU-USA or UNANA, visiting
public officers should be lobbied and challenged to present a report
of the achievement and progress on ECCE in all the LGAs of
School C0nstruction in Kradji, Cote d’Ivoire
Kindergarten (pre-school) class in one of the
shelters in CDI
A modern classroom for children in a cocoa-growing community in

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