The main purpose of this study was to assess the quality control measures of nursery schools in Rivers State, Nigeria. In an attempt to focus the study, four research questions and four hypotheses were formulated. A review of related literature was done to expose the researcher to the area and to provide him with a sound theoretical frame work of the study. The study used 27 supervisors and 223 teachers as respondents. A four likert type scale questionnaire of Strongly Agree (SA), Agree (A), Disagree (D) and Strongly Disagree (SD) with the assigned scores of 4,3, 2, and 1 respectively made up of 20 items from the research questions were used for data collection. Mean, standard deviation and t-test were used for data analysis. Findings include that not all nursery schools in Rivers State had health facilities, adequate environment: both physical and learning environment, quality personnel and instructional material. There was no significant difference in the mean ratings of supervisors and teachers on the availability of quality control measures of nursery schools in Rivers State, Nigeria. By implication, serious and urgent consideration should be given to the implementation of the minimum standard for nursery schools in Rivers State in order to raise the standard of nursery school education, quality of pupils and enhance quality outcome. Based on the findings and implications, recommendations for actualization of the minimum standard were made.

Background of the Study
The clamour for nursery school education by parents and the government support for early literacy have been strong and overwhelming since the past two decades. The reason is not far-fetched. The wider view is that nursery school education can bring a wide range of benefits for children, parents and society at large. McWayne, Cheung, Wright, Hahs-Vaughn & Thomas (2012) said that the transition from nursery school to elementary school imposes diverse developmental challenges that requires children to engage successfully with their peers outside of the family network, adjust to the space of a classroom and meet the expectations the school setting provides. However, these benefits are conditional on “quality”. Expanding access to services without attention to quality will not deliver good outcomes for children on one hand and long-term productivity benefits for society on the other hand.

The history and development of nursery school education in Nigeria dates back to 18th century with the settlement of the colonial government who through the missionaries, set up schools in churches for their children and few of the citizens’ children. Early locations of nursery schools were Abeokuta, Lagos, Onitsha, Calabar, Bonny and Warri where the presences of the missionaries were dominant (Maduewesi, 1999).

The Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN, 2008) defined early childhood education as the care, protection, stimulation and learning promoted in children from age 0-5 years in a day care centre, crèche, nursery or kindergarten. The focus of this study is nursery school education. The term nursery school is identified with different names worldwide. Colon (2004) said that some call it early childhood education, kindergarten, pre-school, pre-primary, nursery school, day Care, infant classes, to mention a few. However, for the purpose of this research, we shall consistently refer to it as nursery school education.

The National Policy on Education (FRN, 2004) posits that the purpose of nursery education are to effect a smooth transition from the home to the school, prepare the child for the primary level of education, provide adequate care, supervision and security for the children while their parents are at work. Also, to inculcate in the child social and moral norms, spirit of enquiry and creativity through the exploration of nature, the environment, art, music and the use of toys. More so, it aims at making the child develop a sense of co-operation, team-spirit and good health habits and to teach the rudiments of numbers, letters, colours, shapes, forms, etc, through play.

The document states that the federal government of Nigeria will set and monitor minimum standards for early childhood Care and Education Centers (ECCE). She will establish early childhood and Care Education sections in public primary schools and encourage community and private efforts in its provision based on set standards. Government will supervise and control the quality of ECCE institutions, produce learning and instructional materials, provide favourable environment for learning, among others.

It is in a bid to give children good head starts, help them develop cognitive, affective and psychomotor skills and to achieve the overall goal of nursery education that Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) with support from United Nation International Children Education Fund (UNICEF) developed the National Minimum Standard for Early Child Care Centres (FRN, 2005). To ensure uniform and enhanced programme participation by government, private persons, companies, churches and the mosque, the National Policy for Integrated Early Childhood Development (NPIECD) in Nigeria was additionally adopted (FRN, 2007). The provisions of the former formed the benchmark for quality control of nursery school operation in Nigeria as applicable in Rivers State.

The state ministry of education was vested with the power to achieve the above objectives by ensuring that all stake holders comply with the national minimum standards through regular inspection and supervision and by providing education laws and their enforcement. It is expected that the teachers and supervisors have major roles to play in ensuring that children are benefiting from nursery programme.

Teachers have the task of guiding, directing and providing safe and healthy environment on daily basis for children’s play and explorative activities while focusing on few children at a time. Teachers serve dual role of being caregiver to the nursery school child as well as his internal supervisor. Their position avails them the opportunity of being internal assessors of young children school programme alongside that of the supervisors.

The supervisor’s role in young children’s programme is to ensure compliance of the provisions of the minimum standard and to police all stake holders until they implement them to the letter. McCrea & Brasseur (2003) said that supervision is a process that consists of a variety of patterns of behavior, the appropriateness of which depends upon the needs, competencies, expectations and philosophies of the supervisor and the supervisee and the specifics of the situation (task, client, setting, and other variables). The Federal Ministry of Education (2012), being the chief custodian of education documents that the main objective of school supervision is to ensure that learning takes place in schools, the required standards are being maintained, schools are accountable to their proprietors (in the case of public schools, the government) and their customers (parents and students).

Egwunyenga (2005) perceives supervision as an action taken to improve teaching and learning situations for children. Thus, the activities carried out by a supervisor are summed up as supervision. While supervisors are to provide guidance on how schools can improve and build up a picture of how well schools are performing for informed policy decisions, government believes that the health and safety of the children, the cognitive, psychomotor and affective development of the child depends on the quality of the learning environment and age appropriate materials provided for the child’s exploration. Hence, the role of supervisors of.....

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