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Only 36% Nigerian Children Attend Early Child Education

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), has said only 36% of children in Nigeria attend Early Child Education (ECE), as children with ECE perform better academically.

The Fund, describes ECE as a critical period for a Child between 0-5 years of learning through play in early childhood education programs, adding that only 1 in 3 children in the country attend ECE, but at least 10 million are not enrolled.

Education Specialist at UNICEF, Ms Yetunde Oluwatosin, disclosed this at a Two-Day Media Dialogue in Sokoto on ‘Early Child Education in collaboration with the Child Rights Information Bureau (CRIB), of the Federal Ministry of Education

According to her, large inequalities persist in Early Child Education in Nigeria, between children from poor homes and rich homes.

She said, “It has been observed that large inequalities persist between the poorest children and the richest children’s ECE attendance rate translating to 8 per cent and 87 per cent respectively.

“Globally, fewer than one in three children ages three to four attend ECE. In West and Central Africa, only one in four (24 per cent) attend ECE.

“In Nigeria, only one in three children (36 per cent) attend but at least 10 million children are not enrolled. Research has shown that children who attend ECE perform better in the academy and have greater earning potential as they grow over the years.

Ms Oluwatosin, emphasises that the Funds, the collective aim is to build a strong and resilient ECE national system delivery quality program led across the country in the development of a humanitarian context.

UNICEF Communication Specialist, Dr Geoffrey Njoku, said ECE is the bedrock of a child’s development and attention must be focused on ensuring that ECE thrives in the country.

He said,” We need to create the platform for government and other stakeholders to take action to make sure that early childhood education becomes the norm and the practice in Nigeria today,

“We have heard how beneficial it is to the intellectual and mental development of the child, so it’s important that we begin to inculcate it as part of the National Education curriculum and that is what we need to do as advocates and to set the agenda for it”, he said.

In her presentation, the Country Coordinator, of the Early Childhood Development Initiative, ECDI, Nigeria, Dr Amy Panyi, said there was a need to promote early childhood education to have a robust sector.

She, however, emphasises the need for the engagement of stakeholders through curriculum and capacity development of teachers as well as special education support for the children.

According to her, children allowed to play in class through the ECE can create innovation and relate socially, with positive impacts on the latter part of the child’s life.

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