UBEC, UNICEF canvases early childhood care, education for communities in Nigeria
By; ALEX UANGBAOJE, Kaduna.
Committed to reducing out of school children in Nigeria, the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) in partnership with United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has stressed the need for UBEC and State Universal Basic Education Commissions (SUBEBs) to among other recommendations, assist communities to establish more Community Based Early Childhood Care (CBECC) as a vehicle to increase access to Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) and primary education in hard to reach communities in the country.
This was contained in a Baseline Survey of Early Childhood Development and Learning in Nigeria, report presented at the “Dissemination of CBECC) and Pre-primary Baseline Study Report meeting in Kaduna.
Speaking during the presentation, Executive Secretary UBEC, Dr. Suleman Dikko, who was represented by Pius Osayande Osaghae, Director Academic Services of the commission craves the support of SUBEBs to always have ECCE in mind when ever action plans for infrastructure or teachers development are sent to them.
According to him, “The collaboration with UNICEF is to ensure that we reach the unreached, because we have large group of pupils of school age who are supposed to be in Pre-primary section of our schools, but due to the fact that the distance from the nearest school to them may be so much and as children, they may not be able to walk that long distance and also the issue of safety comes in.
“That is why UNICEF initiative of CBECC is being aggressively pursued by UBEC with the assistance of UNICEF and also with the cooperation of the states because they are actually the ones to implement. It is one of our cardinal projects to ensure that the unreached children of preschool age are being accessed to basic education.
”Also Pre-primary education is now a compulsory policy of the federal government. What we are doing now is to create the baseline that will help us to implement it, and some states due to the little we have done so far have even gone ahead to establish some centre and we are hoping that we scale up and require more funding from the states.
Speaking to journalists, Charles Avelino, UNICEF Education Specialist said Early Childhood Development (ECD) is one of the key priorities of UNICEF, therefore information is needed to intervene, hence the initiative was piloted in selected thirteen states across the country.
Avelino, noted that though, there are so many out of school children in Nigeria and that enrolment is a big challenge, UNICEF is not only focusing on that, but also in improving the quality of education.
“So in terms of access, early childhood development is a key intervention because when children start early they have the right opportunity to go beyond the primary and secondary schools, that is why we are working in these area.”
One of the participants, the Executive Secretary of Kaduna State Universal Basic Education, Lawal Daura said the state is collaborating with UNICEF in order to reach and enroll more children in the rural communities and they are cooperating.
About seventy (70) communities in forty two (42) Local Government Authorities of thirteen (13) States and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja were selected for the baseline survey which also charged government to enforce compliance with minimum teacher qualification for teaching in Nigeria.