ASSESSMENT OF EARLY CHILDHOOD CARE EDUCATION PROVIDERS’ ADHERENCE TO THE PROVISIONS OF THE NATIONAL MINIMUM STANDARDS ON EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION IN OWERRI EDUCATION ZONE
The main purpose of this study is to assess the early childhood care education providers’ adherence to the national minimum standard in Zone C (Idoma) Education Area, Benue State. Five research questions and five hypotheses guided the study. The study adopted descriptive survey research design. The population of this study consisted of 5,999 head teachers and teachers in 170 primary schools in Zone C (Idoma) Education Area. The sample size was 381 head teachers and teachers drawn from the population. The sample was drawn using simple random technique. The instrument for data collection was a structured questionnaire titled “Early Childhood Care Education Providers’ Adherence to National Minimum Standard Questionnaire’s (ECCEPANMSQ) was adopted by the researcher. Three experts validated the instrument and the instrument yielded an overall reliability coefficient of 0.89. The data collected was analysed using mean and standard deviation to answer the research questions while t-test statistic was used to test the null hypotheses at 0.05 level of significance. The findings of the study were that: ECCE providers have not adhered to the requirements of the National minimum standard on the recruitment of teachers, the ECCE centres are not regularly supervised by the providers, the learning environment is not conducive enough, teaching materials are not used in line with the requirement of the National minimum standard and also children’s health is not well protected. Based on the findings of the study, conclusions were drawn and recommendations were made.
Background of the Study
Education is a process of developing an individual to help him improve himself and his/her society. The Federal Republic of Nigeria as stated in the National policy on education[Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN), 2004], Education is defined as the process that helps to develop the whole being, physically, mentally, morally, politically, socially, economically and technologically. Education will enable the individual function in any environment in which they may find themselves. Education is the process through which a child or an adult acquires knowledge, experience, skills and sound attitude. It makes an individual civilized, refined, cultured and educated (Nwagwu, 2003). The value and importance of educating the child can never be over emphasized.
A child is a young human being between birth and puberty. According to Opera (2012), a child is a person known as a minor from birth to the legal age of maturity, for whose parents and caregivers, foster parents, public or private homes, institutional or agency is responsible. The child is somebody under a legally specified age who is considered not to be legally responsible for his or her actions. In this study a child is defined as a person from the age of zero to five years under the care of caregivers, helpers and securities in Early Childhood Care Education (ECCE) Centres.
For a child to survive and develop, someone has to nurture and care for him. The child depends on his parents and others (caregiver) who ensure that the child survives and develops through good care. Evans, Myers and IIford (2000) opined that the care results into creating an enabling environment which can support the child’s optimal development. Care include providing in the child’s life appropriate modelling, stimulation, protection and time which are
all components of respect for the child’s right. The authors’ further state that a child with consistent caring attention is generally better nourished, less likely to be sick and learn better than a child who does not receive such. This is why early childhood stage is a critical period.
Early childhood period is a sensitive stage. It is a period of 0-8 years of age (UNICEF, 2004). It is the time the child needs appropriate care for growth, development and survival. It is the foundation of the world’s future and must be given highest priority (Maduewesi, 2005). The period of early childhood requires special care practice for the child for good physical and psychological development. Proper early childhood care practices are very essential to every society that aspires to raise healthy children. This encompasses such aspects as feeding, bathing, clothing, shelter, toilet training, medical care, supervision, among others. It involves engaging the child in social interaction, providing stimulating and safe environments for play and exploration (UNICEF, 1996).
The term Early Childhood Education has been used severally for children of different age bracket who are yet to attain the school-going age.[ pre-schoolers], early childhood education is also known as pre-primary, pre-school, or nursery school, among others. Maduewesi (2005) sees early childhood education as encompassing the overall social, physical and intellectual development and education of children below the age of six years. According to the Federal Republic of Nigeria as stated in the National Policy on Education (NPE),(FRN, 2004) early childhood education is the education given in an educational institution to children prior to their entering into primary school. It includes the crèche, the nursery and the kindergarten. Here, it implies that younger children are to be taught in informal settings as in the crèche starting from zero to two years, the nursery, two to three years, and kindergarten, three to five years. Therefore, early childhood education in this study refers to any formal education provided for children from birth to five years before primary school age during
which the Curriculum enables the children to acquire social skills and develop physically and intellectually as a foundation for life and transition into primary school.
The purpose of ECCE as outlined in the NPE (FRN, 2004) shall be to effect a smooth transition from home to 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 social norms in the children, inculcate in children the spirit of enquiry and creativity through the exploration of nature, the environment, art, music and playing with toys, among others, 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, forms among others through play.
However, it has been observed by Ibiam (2012), that in spite of all the laudable objectives of the integrated early childhood development in Nigeria. Early childhood education of young children leaves more to be desired as a large proportion of Nigerian children still lack access to or participate in early year’s development programmes in the country. Observing the participation of government in the facilitating the achievement of the objectives of pre-primary education, Ugwu (2012) stated that significant provision is yet to be made in many public schools. In view of the challenges of the ECCE programme in Nigeria, the researcher will therefore assess the extent of adherence to the minimum standard on ECCE.
Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) in conjunction with the United Nations International Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF), United Nation; Education Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and other developmental partner, addressing the gaps in ECCE programme states that there is need to develop National minimum standard to guide the operation of ECCE. In Nigeria, The prescribed minimum standard for ECCE centres includes types of ECCE centres, location, ownership, provision for
qualified and experience teachers and staff, provision of infrastructure and equipment, provision of standards curriculum and monitoring and supervision of ECCE programme in Nigeria. Minimum standard is the minimum content, materials and practices that would be expected in the ECCE Centres in Nigeria. It is government way of ensuring the provision and maintenance of quality in the ECCE Centres.
Categories of staff to be recruited as contained in the national minimum standard on ECCE, include caregivers, helpers and securities. According to the NERDC, (2006), there should be one teacher and one helper per class of 20-25 children of 0-3 years old. There should be one teacher and one helper for 30-35 children of 3-5years. The teachers and helpers should be medically fit, committed and trustworthy, whether volunteer or otherwise. Update and refresher course for teachers and helpers should be organized from time to time. Teachers for 0-3 years should posse’s basic literacy and aged not less than 21 years. Teachers for 3-5 years should be NCE holders, retired nurses, teachers and other educated retirees or anyone with at least senior secondary school certificate and not less than 21 years. Helpers should not be less than 21 years and should have first school leaving certificate or basic literacy certificate. Security should be an able bodied and responsible member of the community with a minimum of first school leaving certificate or basic literacy) certificate.
Supervision of ECCE centres, as specified in the minimum standard guidelines by NERDC (2006), should be both internal and external. Internal supervision is done by head teachers, teachers, Parent Teacher Association and community committee. On the other hand, external supervision is carried out by National Desk Officers, (biannual supervision), state Desk Officers/Focal Persons (quarterly supervision), LGEA Focal Officers (monthly supervisions). Parent’s interactive visits to centres follow ups on children’s performance, provision of meals while at the centres. Parent Teacher Association participation, material/monetary contributions, and provision of special services should be part of the schools
development plan articulated by the School Based on Management Committee (SBMC). Government involvement in supervision of schools include provision of quality control, training of suitable personnel, provision of infrastructure, equipment and gender-fair instructional materials for government owned centres(NERDC, 2006). Ibiam (2012) say that regular monitoring and review of progress are critical and should be done regularly with mechanism for modification strategies.
Instructional materials were also specified. The providers should also ensure the following instructional materials in the classrooms. Curriculum (government approved), teachers’ guide (oneset), toy making manual, time table (one per class) chalkboard, slate, cardboard, teachers’ lesson notes, radio (one per class), colourful charts (variety), flash cards, as many as possible, lego, building blocks (one dozen per 5 children), counter/abacus (5per class), pencils, crayons, colourings, paint brushes and drawing books (one per child), musical instruments such as flute, drum, whistles and other local musical instruments (one per class), gender neutral charts/poster picture (NERDC, 2006).
According to the minimum standard prescription, ECCE centres should be situated in a place that is acceptable to communities. This could be a home, community building such as civic centres, churches, mosques and existing schools or a purpose built structure, within walking distance from home (maximum of 2kilometres), safe and secure environment, free from chemical and other hazards), free from excessive noise (NERDC, 2006). Based on the minimum standard guideline as prescribed by NERDC (2006), the Early Childhood Care Education providers are expected to plan their centres to include enough space for children to play (enough to take 20-25 children and two adults at a given time). Equally, safe and secured environment should include grass or sand but not bushy or dirty, not waterlogged, free from dangerous objects and fenced in a manner that prevents outside interference such as rampaging animals and prevents children from straying outside. It should be fenced with concrete, mud,
bamboo, raffia, corn stalk, wood, flower hedge or plants. There should be office accommodation that is safe and enough space for safety of school records and material.
Classrooms should be solid structures that will not collapse. The building should not pose danger to children. There should be enough space in the classrooms (16 square meters) for 20-25 children and it should be well ventilated with at least two doors. The design should allow for free movement. Sitting arrangement should not be rigid like in formal school setting but flexible and allow for play and interaction with other children. There should be smooth floor but not slippery (has to be plastered with cement or with other local materials but not cow dung and such harmful materials), with good roofing and ceiling and also with science, health and nutrition, drama, shopping and sleeping corners (NERDC, 2006). Ibiam (2011) opined that children love exploring their environment so there must be adequate provision of facilities to make the school environment conducive for learning and to stimulate mutual, moral and social development. Consequently, adequate provision of equipment and standard curriculum enhance teaching and learning in the ECCE centres in other to maintain minimum standard in schools.
Next in the minimum standard guidelines for the Early Childhood care education providers is that weekly health inspection of the children such as, oral hygiene and physical inspection, among others, should be carried out Facilities for storing expressed breast milk and comp1ernentai feedings for 0-2 years should be provided in the centre. Monthly growth monitoring and promotion records, standard first aid box with splint, bandages, cotton wool, antiseptics, scissors, mentholated spirit, adhesives, liniment, analgesics, thermometer, powder and petroleum jelly and staff trained on their use for the treatment of common ailments and appropriate referral should be provided in the centre. Provision of health and nutrition corner with education materials, evidence of monthly visit from the health worker (school health service units) for routine immunization, supplementary and other health services, adoption of
appropriate behaviour regarding prevention of ‘ HIV/AIDS affected children, daily physical exercise regime/period, regular de-worming (4-6 months) are also outlined. There should be adequate provision of fire extinguishers/buckets of sand, weighting scales, growth charts, height meters, roller metre/infant metres, tape measure, road to health cards, measuring cups/jugs/bottle, measuring spoon (tea spoon), salt and sugar (for regular use of ORS). Clean water, provision of spear clothes, hand towels and soap, Childs’ protection materials, blanket, net on the windows and the doors, mosquito net in the centres. The above minimum standard stressed, according to the NERDC (2006), is prescribed in order to have good early childhood care and education centres that will provide care and supervision for the children within the age range of 0-5 years.
The minimum standard for early childhood care is broadly organized in four clusters; namely structure content, practice, monitoring and evaluation. The major interest of this research is the practices. This is because the overall physical and psychological development of a child is anchored on good child care practices by care givers. Practices are actions, behaviours expected of caregivers in care giving centres. Evans, Myers and IIford (2000), point out that the indicators of a child’s status fall into three main categories survival, growth and nutrition and is associated with child development and social achievement. With increase in industrialization and employment in Nigeria, some parents have to send their children to such centres where these children will be taken care of while their parents are at work and where they would learn in preparation for entering the primary school. This is because it is believed by psychologists that conceptual learning starts at the early stage and it sets interests, curiosity and habit patterns of the individual child. It also contributes to the personality of the child later in life. Therefore, learning begins at birth.
Early childhood education providers can be the government, religious organisation or private individual who are called differently as proprietors. Government shall establish pre-
primary sections in existing schools and encourage both community/private efforts in the provision of pre-primary education; Make provision in teacher education programmes for specialization in early childhood education. It will also ensure that the medium of instruction is principally the mother-tongue or the language of the immediate community and to this end will develop the orthography of many more Nigerian languages and produce textbooks in Nigerian languages. Others include ensuring 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 pre-primary education. To this end, the teacher-pupil ratio shall be 1:25. The government shall also set and monitor minimum standard for early childcare centres in the country, and ensure full participation of government, communities and teachers’ associations in the running and maintenance of early childhood education facilities. Appropriate levels of government (state and local) are required to establish and enforce educational laws that will ensure that established pre-primary schools are well run, teachers are well qualified, and other appropriate academic infrastructure provided. In other words there should be competent teachers and care givers as well as appropriate learning environment in terms of space, security/safety and materials for play/learning. Adequate provision of these resources requires adequate funds. All these are to enable the centres meet minimum standard requirement, in every pre-primary schools that are owned and managed by the government, private individuals, religious organisation which are located in urban and rural areas in Benue States. However the administrators of such schools are the care givers, teachers, helpers and securities.
A caregiver is anyone who looks after the child either in short or long term basis. The caregiver is one of the key factors in the school system. There may be good curriculum, adequate materials and equipment as well as sufficient structures but without qualified teachers, it may be impossible to achieve the ECCE purposes. In the Nigerian context, a
qualified teacher is one who possesses the National Certificate in Education (NCE) or bachelor degree(s) in childhood education. The qualified teacher is one who has gone through training in a recognized institution and has obtained a certificate in early childhood education.
However, Enyi (2000) said that most children do not feel comfortable at school because of the caregiver’s non-compliance with the stated objectives. In Enyi’s opinion, one may like to know whether the caregiver, helpers, securities and communities are complying and ensuring that children care for and receive support to develop their potentials and in constructive manner to enhance security and development of positive social behaviour and that children are nurtured in terms of health and nutrition and even cultural and language development. It has been observed that some parents are not interested in sending their wards to ECCE centres established in public primary schools. Sequel to the above, the researcher’s intention is to assess the extent to which the care providers adhere to the specifications of minimum standard on ECCE centres in Zone C, Idoma Education Zone. In view of this, the study will be carried out to assess the extent of the compliance of ECCE providers to the provisions of national minimum standard for ECCE programme in ZONE C Idoma Education Area of Benue State.
Assessment is the process that involves the collection, processing and interpretation of results from measurement of various aspects of educational objectives in order to establish the value, level or worth of progress made by or changes observed in an individual (Joshua, 2005). Assessment is the process of gathering on-going and comprehensive information about specific aspects of a child’s knowledge, behaviour, skill level or personality for the purpose of making evaluative decisions. Losardo and Notari, (2001), view assessment as an observation made and judgement passed about something based on understanding of that condition. Assessment is a tool in the education sector used to identify valuable information in the teaching and learning process. Assessment refers to opinion about something. It plays a vital role in education. Thus,
it is an act of judging or deciding the amount, value, quality or importance of something or the judgement or decision that is made. Drummond (2007) defines assessment in early childhood education as the process that educators use to gather and analyse information about children and their learning in order to inform continuous cycle of planning and evaluation. Assessment is a good practice of assessing children’s learning environment in order to plan further. Also, Paul, Ambia and Mwai (2013) define assessment as the process of observing, describing, collecting, recording, scoring and interpreting information about students’ learning. The aim of assessment is to improve performance. From the assessment, measurement of various aspects of education is established; the value or worth of progress made by an individual in something is discovered. Thus in this study, it means the extent to which care providers adhere to prescription in the minimum standard in the care centres in Zone C Idoma education area.
Thus adherence to the minimum standard will enhance uniformity and promote learning outcomes in ECCE programmes. According to Merriam – Webster (2015), Adherence is the act of doing what is required by the rule and belief. Adherence is the act of someone behaving exactly according to rules or beliefs. This means care providers are required to carefully practice the prescription of minimum standard. The prescribed minimum standard to be strictly considered is location, ownership, provision of qualified and experienced teachers, provision of infrastructure and equipment, provision of standard curriculum and monitoring and supervision of ECCE Centres in Nigeria. Thus adherence to minimum standard will enhance uniformity and promote learning outcomes in ECCE Centres.
Statement of Problems
In Nigeria today, with the incorporation of early childhood Education into UBE programme in 2004, every public primary school is to integrate ECCE into its programme. The integration is backed up by government financing and supported by individuals, religious
organisations and communities. This is in line with the intention and preparation of National action plan for Education for All (EFA) in Nigeria. It is also acknowledged that the Nigerian Educational Research development council in collaboration with UNICEF has done some useful work in terms of minimum standard.
However, despite all the efforts of the government and the international agencies ECCE centres in zone C (Idoma) education area have not adhered to the requirements as stipulated in minimum standard on ECCE Centres. Most of the centres lack facilities as a result children receive lessons in dilapidated buildings while some schools are situated in unconducive environments such as market places and road sides, some centres have unqualified care-givers some of which teach without instructional materials and standard curriculum. Thus one wonders what could be the problem. Could it be that ECCE providers are not following the minimum standard requirements? Or there are lapses in staff recruitment and supervision of ECCE Centres? Sequel to the above, the researcher’s intention is to assess the extent to which ECCE providers adhere to the provision of minimum standard in Zone C (Idoma) Education Area in Benue State.
Purpose of the Study
The general purpose of this study was to assess the ECCE providers’ adherence to the National Minimum Standard on ECCE in Zone C (Idoma) Education Area, Specifically the study sought to:
1. Ascertained the extent to which ECCE providers comply with staff recruitment requirement of Minimum Standards in their ECCE centres.
2. Find out the extent to which ECCE centres are supervised in compliance with the National Minimum Standard on ECCE.
3. Ascertained the extent to which ECCE providers adhere to the use of instructional materials for teaching and learning
4. Determined the extent to which ECCE providers adhere to the provision of quality environment in compliance with the National Minimum Standard on ECCE.
5. Ascertained the extent to which ECCE providers adhere to the protection of children’s health in compliance with the minimum standard on ECCE.
Significance of the Study
The benefits of this study shall have both practical and theoretical significance. Theoretically the finding of the study will validate Montessori educational theory that educational environment should be tailored to basic human characteristics and free activity within a prepared environment. These called for qualified and experience staff to relate well with the children, enough facilities to stimulate children’s learning. It will also add to Vygotsky socio- cultural theory that emphasizes the kind of learning that occurs in form of social interactions at ECCE Centres. Thus the recruited staff should have the capacity to relate well and make the environment conducive for the children to learn. Practically the finding will be beneficial to stake holders in the education of children including the government, ECCE proprietors, parents, caregivers, helpers, pupils and future researchers. The results of the study will be of beneficial to government, an understanding of the level of adherence to minimum standard requirement will afford the government an insight into possible ways through which there would be improvement in the provision of materials, supervisions, and maintenance of ECCE Centres as it is expected to provide relevant framework in improving early childhood care education centres. The findings of this research will also be beneficial to the ECCE proprietors in organizing training and re-training, workshops and seminars for teachers. Some areas of inadequacies will be identified to guide proprietors improve their centres. Proprietors
will utilize the outcome of the research to create staff and community relationship which will in turn increase the enrolment in the centres.
The findings if presented in workshops and seminars will be of benefit to teachers of ECCE Centres. It will help improve their method of teaching and use of teaching materials to improve generally on child’s management in and out of classroom. The results of the research will further be of benefit to parents, as it would serve as framework for improved quality education in the ECCE Centres. More awareness will be created on the part of parents for the care, safety and supervision to be given to the children. It will help the parent to participate in internal supervision of the schools and this will encourage enrolment of wards (age 0-5) in ECCE Centres. Thus, entrusting their children and wards to care providers.
The findings of the study will also be of benefit to care providers as it will highlight some standard needed that will enhance good and quality environment that will promote quality learning outcomes. And further researchers who may desire to carry out studies relating to study will equally benefit from this study because, it will provide them direction on the guidelines for their studies and indeed serve as an additional reference material for studies.
Scope of the Study
The geographical scope of this study covered some selected Early Childhood Care Education (ECCE) centres in Zone C (Idoma) education area in Benue State. The content scope focused on the extent to which ECCE providers recruit staff, supervise, provide instructional materials and environment that promote quality learning outcomes, protect the health, nutrition, physical safety and right of the child in compliance with National minimum standard in ECCE.
The following research questions guided the study.
1. To what extent do Early Childhood Care Education (ECCE) providers recruit staff in compliance with the national Minimum Standard on ECCE?
2. To what extent are Early Childhood Care Education (ECCE) centres supervised in compliance with National Minimum Standard on ECCE?
3. To what extent do Early Childhood Care Education (ECCE) providers adhere to the use of instructional materials?
4. To what extent do Early Childhood Care Education (ECCE) providers adhere to the provision of environments that promote quality learning outcomes?
5. To what extent do Early Childhood Care Education (ECCE) providers adhere to the protection of children’s health?
The following hypotheses were formulated to guide the study and were tested at 0.05 level of significance.
H01: There is no significant difference in the mean ratings of head teacher and teacher on the extent to which ECCE staff are recruited in compliance with the national minimum standard on ECCE.
H02: There is no significant difference in the mean ratings of head teacher and teacher on the extent to which ECCE centres are supervised.
H03: There is no significant difference in the mean ratings of head teacher and teachers on the extent to which providers adhere to the use of instructional materials.
H04: There is no significant difference in the mean ratings of head teacher and teacher on the extent to which the providers adhere to the provision of environments that promote quality learning outcomes.
H05: There is no significant difference in the mean ratings of head teacher and teacher on the extent to which the providers adhere to the protection of children’s.