From the poorest to the most most affluent communities worldwide, the Global’s Children’s Initiative (GCI) seeks to find ways to address the adversities young children face on the basis of science research on healthy, and life-long development of children. The GCI seeks to shield children and women from the adversities brought about by biological and environmental risk factors. Across the globe, there are efforts to promote these noble intentions not only to promote school readiness, but to improve the well-being of children. In Brazil, a project dubbed “Applying the Science of Early Childhood” is in place. Also, “Global Learning Community: Saving Brains” in Canada; “Assessing Child Mental Health Needs in Shanghai” in China; “Expanding effective interventions to improve preschool quality” in Chile; “Exploring the intergenerational impact of war through war-affected youth” in Sierra Leone; and “Piloting assessments to measure child development outcomes linked to malaria control strategies” in Zambia are initiatives that tackle the issues unique to their communities. Regardless of the issues, what research in science indicates provides the foundation for taking action to address the different forms of adversities.
A Closer Look at the Issues in Nigeria
The acknowledgement of the primal need of early childhood education not only as a right, but as a way to fight poverty and an effort to assure the future stability of a nation is just the initial step in development. What comes next is to identify what and how are the issues in early child care and education can be tackled to fulfil the end goals. Let’s look at Nigeria’s approach to their issues…
Back in the 1980’s only 7.7% of children in Lagos, Western Nigeria of the parents had sent their children to informal early childhood programs in rural and urban areas. Olanrewaju (2014) surmises that during those years, parents did not have the education to understand the importance of early childhood programs in the development of their children. With the recognition of children’s right to equal opportunity to education, the Early Childhood Education became part of the 1998 National Policy on Education. There was a mix of private and public programs available for children 0 to 5 years old. Private programs charge fees that have implications on the quality of teachers and facilities for children. However, the Universal Basic Education (UBE) Act in 2004 now requires programs for three to five-olds as part of the public primary school. This increased the opportunity for young children to have access to free early childhood care and education. The success of the Early Childhood Care and Education could be attributed to the support from the government by allocating five percent of the UBE to the early intervention services. Additionally, states must also allocate its equivalent to receive this benefit.
Taking into serious consideration the quality of early childhood programs, assessment tools are deemed necessary to ensure their effectiveness based on the principles set by the National Education Goals Panels. These principles include,
• Assessment should bring about benefits for children.
• Assessments should be tailored to a specific purpose and should be reliable, valid, and fair for that purpose.
• Assessment policies should be designed recognizing that reliability and validity of assessments increase with children’s age.
• Assessments should be age-appropriate in both content and the method of data collection.
• Assessments should be linguistically appropriate, recognizing that to some extent all
assessments are measures of language.
• Parents should be a valued source of assessment information, as well as an audience for
The Early Childhood Committee Education lists areas to be assessed in children. They are,
- Background information about family, early development, health, language, literacy and educational experiences
- Hearing and vision
- Perception, memory, language, thinking skills, and problem-solving
- Listening comprehension and expressive language
- Awareness and manipulation of sounds in words, letter names, and picture names.
- These are good predictors of early reading
- Writing mechanics and early content
- Social and self-help skills and use of non-verbal communication
As such, assessments are deemed to support learning, to identify special needs, to evaluate programs and monitor trends, and, to ensure high-stakes accountability. These principles as bases for the policies and practices in early childhood in Nigeria indicate their vision to develop responsive readiness skills and to provide early child care intervention. Recognising the benefits of working with families, identifying the points for improvement in the programs, and scrutinising the assessment formats for different purposes are key factors to realise their goals. Most importantly, finding resources, especially funding to take action is an advancement to advocate for Nigeria’s excellence and equity in education.
Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. (2010). Global children’s initiative. Retrieved from http://developingchild.harvard.edu/index.php/activities/global_initiative/
Olarewanju, A. (2014). Early Childhood Assessment: Implications for the Development of Responsive Readiness Skills, Child Care and Early Intervention In Nigeria. International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences 4(6). Retrieved from http://hrmars.com/hrmars_papers/Early_Childhood_Assessment_Implications_For_The_Development_Of_Responsive_Readiness_Skills,_Child_Care_And_Early_Intervention_In_Nigeria.pdf