A Professor of Science Education at the University of Ilorin, Adekunle SOlorundare, has called on the Federal Government to urgently check the growing number of out-of-school children in the country, lamenting that over 10 million school-age Nigerian kids do not have access to functional early childhood care and education.
Olorundare made the call in his Keynote Address, titled “Repositioning Early Childhood Education in Nigeria for Global Competitiveness: A Peek into Global Best Practice”, at the Annual Conference of the Early Childhood Association of Nigeria, ECAN, held at the University Auditorium. He recommended that government must initiate mechanisms to regulate and control private establishments and operation of pre-primary education in the country.
Olorundare noted that even though the government policy on early childhood education and care is laudable, its actualization and implementation are poorly harnessed.“While enrolment at primary school has increased in the recent years, with a net attendance placed at 70 per cent, Nigeria is reported to have the world’s highest number of out-of-school children, conservatively put at 10.5 million”, he said.
He suggested that Early Childhood Education (ECE) must be considered as part of the child’s right as contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child noting that Early Childhood Education is of great value to all children and should be available to all. He called for increased funding while advising the government to go beyond formulating policies and granting licenses to private operators and move to effective monitoring and supervision of their activities in order to achieve the aims of early childhood care development and education (ECCDE).
His words: “Every child, including children from deprived socioeconomic backgrounds and other disadvantaged groups, should have access to early education services of good quality. Nigerian children cannot and must not be denied the benefits of this fundamental right.
“While the Federal Ministry of Education will spend N205.8 million to purchase three exotic Toyota Jeeps LC V8 2016 models at the rate of N68.6 million each, it will spend just N7.2 million for all the activities to improve early childhood education of about 30 million children who are five years old and below.”
Earlier in her welcome address, the President of ECAN, Prof. (Mrs.) F. A. Osanyin, warned that the gross neglect, inadequate recognition, investment and attention to children in the early years would result in children who would probably fail to reach their academic, socio-emotional and health potentials.
She said: “Such children may, therefore, pose challenges and become liabilities to society; have a high probability of involvement in crime and other forms of socially deviant behaviour” insisting that access to early childhood development has significant consequences for eradicating global poverty and achieving sustainable development and indeed the goals as enumerated in MDGs.