Basic education is the education given to children aged 0-14 years. It encompasses the early childhood education (0-5), and 9 years of formal schooling (six years of primary education and 3 years of junior secondary education).Early childhood education however is segmented into ages 0-3 years situated in daycare centres fully in the hands of the private sector and social development services whilst ages 3-5 are within the formal education sector.
This is the education which every Nigerian child is expected to receive between the ages of three (3) and fourteen (14) years. It consists of three years of Early Childhood Care Development and Education (ECCDE), Primary, as well as Adult and Non-Formal Education. It also covers special interventions directed at nomadic and migrant children, mass literacy as well as the ‘almajirais’ and other vulnerable and excluded groups. The agencies which coordinates the affairs of this sub sector is the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), National Commission for Nomadic Education (NCNE) and National Mass Education Commission (NMEC).
In Nigeria, Basic education is free, universal and compulsory for all children of school-going age. The goals of basic education are to:
a) Provide the child with diverse basic knowledge and skills for entrepreneurship, wealth generation and educational advancement.
b) Develop patriotic young people equipped to contribute to social development and in the performance of their civic responsibilities.
c) Inculcate values and raise morally upright individuals capable of independent thinking, and who appreciate the dignity of labour.
d) Inspire national consciousness and harmonious co-existence irrespective of differences in endowment, religion, ethnic and socio-economic background.
e) Provide opportunities for the child to develop manipulative skills that will enable the child function effectively in the society within the limits of the child’s capacity.
·Developing in the entire citizenry a strong commitment for education and strong commitment to its vigorous promotion.
·Reducing drastically the incidence of drop out from the formal school system through improved relevance, quality and efficiency.
·Catering for the learning needs of young persons who for one reason or another, have to interrupt their schooling through appropriate forms of complementary approaches to provision and promotion of basic education.
·Ensuring the acquisition of appropriate levels of literacy, numeracy, manipulative, communication and live skills as well as the ethical, moral and civic values needed for laying a solid foundation for life-long learning.
Strategies mapped out by government to address these issues include:
·Wide sensitisation and advocacy in support of enrolment, retention funding
·Inventory of infrastructure needs of schools, as well as urgent rehabilitation of schools.
·Establishment of National Agency for Education Quality Assurance at all levels below the tertiary level.
·Ensure appropriate staffing in schools, implement National Teacher Education Policy, institutionalise career development and provide conducive working environment for teachers.
·Ensure timely review and enrichment of the schools curriculum
·Increase of budgetary provision for Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and provision of ICT laboratories in all schools with requisite ICT infrastructure and services to also accommodate children with special needs.
·Deliverables to tie in with the specific strategies have also been articulated and timelines included in government’s action plan. Let us briefly examine specific aspects of the basic education policy.
A Early Childhood Care and Education
The Jomtien Declaration article 5 and the United Nations conventions on Child Rights, states; “learning begins at birth. This calls for early childhood care and initial education. This can be provided through arrangements involving families, communities, schools/institutional programs as appropriate”. Nigeria not only endorsed the Jomtien declaration and convention on Child’s Rights but has only recently given prominence to the need for early childhood care and education in the Universal Basic Education (UBE) Assembly passed the Child’s Rights Act into law and was signed by the Governor of Rivers State, Sir, Amaechi on the 24th February, 2010.
This is because research has shown that sensations necessary for the development of the five senses occur between ages 0-3 years. Also the building blocks for effective learning in later years occur between ages 4-6 years. No wonder the huge investment in early childhood education in developed countries.
In Nigeria, early childhood education is the care, protection, stimulation and learning promoted in children from age 0-5 years in a day care centre, nursery or kindergarten. For others still it is a form of organised learning for age-specific competencies for children between 0-6 years. When the focus is on children between the age brackets 3-6, it is usually referred to as nursery education or early childhood education. However, if the focus is integrative of all young children 0-6 years it is usually referred to as Early Child Care Development Education (ECCDE). It is particularly important to understand the difference between ECE and ECCDE, even though both concepts have been used interchangeably in recent years.
ECE emphasizes purely the educational framework and ECCDE emphasizes all aspects of child’s development including education, health, nutrition etc. ECCDE is being emphasised in poor disadvantaged communities where parents are poor and cannot provide the basic necessitates such as nutrition and health which are key components if education is to succeed. This necessitates the need for intervention from the outside to support families’ role in all aspects of the children’s lives because families cannot afford to do so. The ECCDE concept that integrates education with other issues such as nutrition and health can work only with close collaboration among the different stakeholders such as government’s ministries of education/UBE, health, social welfare, International agencies, NGOs, churches, etc.
The purpose of Early Childhood Care Development Education (ECCDE) in Nigeria is to
(a) Effect a smooth transition from the home to the school.
(b)Prepare the child for the primary level of education.