AN APPRAISAL OF CHILD-FRIENDLY STATUS (CFS) OF EARLY CHILDHOOD CARE EDUCATION (ECCE) SCHOOLS IN NIGER STATE

ABSTRACT

The purpose of this study was to appraise the Child-friendly status of ECCE schools in Niger state. The study was guided by five research questions and five hypotheses. The population of the study consisted of all the 272 teachers in the 34 UNICEF-designated child friendly schools in Niger State. The sample for this study consisted of 272 teachers and 68 parents of ECCE pupils. Structured questionnaire was used to collect data to answer the research questions and hypothesis formulated to guide the study. This instrument was validated by three experts. Data were arranged and analyzed according to the research questions using means scores and standard deviation while the t-test was tested at 0.05significance level. The major findings of the study were that: To a great extent ECCE Schools in Niger State show diversity to ensure equal opportunities for all children; With respect to quality learning outcomes, ECCE Schools in Niger State to a great extent are child friendly; To a great extent, ECCE Schools in Niger State are accessible; Niger state do less to enhance ECCE teachers’ capacity; Niger State ECCE schools to a less extent are community-based and :There was no significant difference in the mean Child-friendly status of urban and rural ECCE schools in Niger state. Based on these findings, the conclusion is that much need to be done to improve basic ECCE in Niger State through child friendly school model. Hence, the major educational implication of the findings of the study is that there should be greater effort by stakeholders to create such stimulating milieu to motivate children to discover new skills and knowledge through child friendly school model. The researcher therefore recommended that quality assurance should be demonstrated through teacher and community capacity building. The major limitation of this study is inherent in the design of the study. Thus, the researcher suggested that other research designs and checklist be used to verify the variables of interest in this study.

CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
Background of the Study
A child could mean different thing to different people. A child is a young human being whose development has employed the attention of the government, community, as well as the parents. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC, 2007) defines a child as every human being below the age of 18 years. In another definition, Obinaju (2004) viewed a child as a young person, especially between infancy and youth. United Nation International Children’s Fund (UNICEF, 2007) also defines the child as a human being below the age of eighteen years. For the purpose of this study, a child is seen as a person from the age of zero to five years.

It is the right of every child to be educated, since education is one of the natural phenomena associated with human growth. This is in line with the United Nations Convention on the Right of the Child (1989) declaration “that education is a fundamental human right” (UNICEF, 2013). For instance; Nigeria has domesticated this right of children to education by implementing the universal and compulsory basic education through Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE). Early Childhood Care and Education is all the experiences children between the ages of 0-5yrs have in an educational setting which include the childcare centres, nurseries and kindergarten in public or private centres before the age of formal schooling. According to Essa (2011), early childhood education encompasses developmentally appropriate programs that serve children from birth through age eight. However, the National Policy on Education (NPE) delineated Early Childhood/Pre-Primary Education as the education given in an educational institution to children of ages 0-5years, prior to their entering primary school. It includes the crèche, the nursery and the kindergarten (Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN), 2004).

Government commitments in child right to quality basic education necessitate that every Nigerian child shall have the right to equal educational opportunities irrespective of any perceived or real disability. Upon this notion, the Federal Ministry of Education (FME) through the Universal Basic Education Board (UBEB) has taken the mantle of setting, monitoring and granting approval in both private and public sectors such as UNICEF, World Health Organization (WHO) among others, to establish ECCE in public primary schools across the nation (FRN, 2004:6). ECCE is seen to be vital to the development of the child. The need to enhance the quality of young children’s lives and their cognitive development has made ECCE a topic of national importance. Thus the objectives of ECCE according to FRN (2004:6) are;

-         To effect a smooth transition from home to the school
-         Prepare the child for the primary level of education
-         Provide adequate care and supervision for the children while their parents are at work
-         Inculcate in the children the spirit of enquiry and creativity through the exploration of nature, environment, art music and playing with toys etc.
-         Develop a sense of co-operation and team – spirit;
-         Learn good habits, especially good health habits and
-         Teach the rudiments of numbers, letters, colours, shapes, and forms through play.

To achieve the above objectives, Nigeria has since over years introduced some basic education programme and pledged to provide basic infrastructure, make provision in teacher education programme for specialization in early childhood education, contribute to the development of suitable curriculum, supervise and control the quality of such institutions (FRN, 2004). Establishment of Early Childhood Care and Education section in the existing public primary schools was a recommendation by UNICEF and WHO in collaboration with FME. Also, UNICEF (2000) further recommended that ECCE should be given a Child Friendly Status (CFS). Thus, Nigeria took steps to launch Child – Friendly Schools Initiatives (CFSI) in 2000. So many schools across the country adopted it. Dada (2001) as described in Ismailia (2013) observed that 71,040, pupils and 1776 class teachers in 26 states, Niger State inclusive, were recruited in 2001 for the CFSI. He further noted that by the year 2001 there were 163 schools designated as child – friendly schools in Nigeria. Also the Federal Government of Nigeria noted that 286 primary schools nationwide had been accorded child-friendly status (UNICEF, 2004).

A School with Child Friendly Status (CFS), is a school that “serves the whole child” through embracing a multidimensional concept of quality. It addresses the total needs of the child as a learner through promoting a right-based concept of quality that goes beyond good teaching methods and learning outcomes to include health, safety and adequacy of schools facilities and supplies (Commonwealth of Learning, 2011). UNICEF (2004) describes a child-friendly status school as the one where the learning environment is encouraging, the staff is responsive to children and the health and safety needs of the children are adequately met. Consequently the school is community-based and considers the rights of all children, irrespective of gender, religious and ethnic differences.

Child-friendly status schools, as described by Orkadashvili (2010), aimed to develop a learning environment in which children are motivated and able to learn. Staff members are friendly and welcoming to children and attend to all their health and safety needs. UNESCO (2004) posited that child-friendly status schools are where children have the right to learn to their fullest potential within a safe and welcoming environment. A child-friendly status school provides children with quality education in an environment that is safe, where they express their views, actively participate in the learning process and are protected from harm. It encourages children to enroll in school, stay in school and complete their education with improved performance among others. Importance of CFS schools led the FRN in her NPE (2004:5), to stipulate that, Government shall:

-         Establish early childhood/ pre-primary sections in existing public schools and encourage both community/ private efforts in the provision of pre-primary ECCE.

-         Make provision in teacher education programmes for specialization in early childhood education;
-         Ensure that the medium of instruction is principally the mother-tongue or language of immediate community; and to this end will:
-         Develop the orthography of many more Nigerian languages, and produce text books in Nigerian languages;
-         Ensure that the main method of teaching at this level shall be through play and that curriculum of teacher education is oriented to achieve this; regulate and control the operation of ECCE. To this end the teacher-pupil ratio shall be 1:25;

-         Set and monitor minimum standard for early childcare centers in the country; and

-         Ensure full participation of government, communities and teachers associations in the running and maintenance of ECCE facilities.

Despite the importance and government stipulations of ECCE, researchers made it known that there are some hindering factors that contribute to poor accomplishment of the programme. Chukwu (2011) noted that the stipulation in the National Policy on Education that the method of teaching at this level of education shall be through play and the medium of instruction, principally the language of the immediate community, are implemented to a little extent, leading to poor quality of education. UNICEF (2009a) asserted that, in addition to poor quality of education, such persistent challenges to school attendance as child labour, HIV/AIDS, civil conflict, natural disasters, deepening poverty continue to threaten gains in school enrolment and completion rates in many countries.

The researcher’s personal experience presently showed that Niger State public primary schools of which ECCE is embedded, are running most of the classes in dilapidated buildings, schools are unfriendly; teacher capacity and commitment is low because teachers are seen under the tree selling while classes are on. Teacher to student ratio is more than the 1:25 as stipulated in the NPE. Most children leave school before time and stay under the trees sleeping, hawking and begging for food. Inadequate physical environment to include the facilities such as the playground and play facilities, class composition and size are very poor. There is limited or absence of community participation and this gives rise to schools being unfriendly to pupils, thereby causing poor pupils achievement and high dropout rate.


Child-Friendly Status Schools are situated both in rural and urban areas of Niger State. The schools situated in these areas are meant to prepare and enhance both social and intellectual development of the children for lifelong learning. They are also meant to have suitable school environment; adequate classroom space, adequate furniture, equipment and teaching/learning materials; good motivated teachers who use effective teaching methodologies; adequate water, health and sanitation facilities; and very high involvement of community in education. All these are conditions stipulated by UNICEF (2000). But the reverse may be the case in Niger State. With the researchers’ observations, teaching and learning takes place in dilapidated structures.......

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Item Type: Postgraduate Material  |  Attribute: 100 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Price: N3,000  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.
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