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QUALITY ASSURANCE AS A PRE-REQUISITE FOR PROXIMAL LEARNING IN SOME SELECTED PUBLIC PRIMARY SCHOOLS
The need for Assured Quality at the pre-schools and primary schools, as a pre- requisite for proximal learning among children cannot be overemphasized. Indeed any meaningful discussion of excellence and qualitative education must take account of the central place of child’s growth and development in the educational system. Although, the National Policy on Education (1998; 2004) specifies the guidelines for operating Pre-Primary Education in Nigeria, it did not specify the care and support requirements for children aged 0 to 3 years. This is a major gap that has left the operation of Early Childhood Care and Pre- Primary Education more in the hands of private operators without adequate guidelines or standards. It is sad to note that in spite of the ideals spelt out in the National policy on Education (2004). In as much as Integrated Early Childhood Development (IECD) aims to incorporate interventions from the various sectors of health, nutrition, education protection and participation to ensure positive outcomes for the child in terms of cognitive achievement, care and development, this study should underscore the importance of IECD as a developmental intervention for children.
1.1 Background of the problem
The need for Assured Quality at the pre-schools and primary schools, as a pre- requisite for proximal learning among children cannot be overemphasized. Indeed any meaningful discussion of excellence and qualitative education must take account of the central place of child’s growth and development in the educational system (lgwe1998; Osanyin, 2002). Curtis (2000) opined that researchers,practitioners, parents and stakeholders all need to define a “quality assured educational programme”. The clamour for an acceptable definition of quality in educational programming naturally brings to the fore the need for a consensus on what should constitute the minimum standards whenever an early childhood development programme is being evaluated.
In this connection, it is noteworthy that the National Policy on Education (1998) declares that the responsibilities of government for pre-primary education shall be to promote the training of qualified pre-primary school teachers in adequate number, contribute to the development of suitable curriculum and supervise and control the quality of such institutions. Indeed this serves as an official acknowledgement of the realization that the progress of pre-school educational provisions should be evaluated along certain parameters. No nation can afford to ignore the education of its children. Although, it is the society that dictates the content and standards of its education, yet it is still not enough to provide quality education, but the education offered by its pre-schools should be qualitative in nature. Osanyin (2002) sees Quality as a complex, cultural and relative concept whose components relate to the structural aspects such as staff qualification, group composition, materials, and children’s experiences types of setting and staff stability.
Early Childhood Care in Nigeria evolved as a special field of focus for developmental intervention about two decades ago based on Government’s resolve to create an enabling environment for the Nigerian child. This enabling environment is to help the child to thrive and develop to its fullest potential in line with the national goal and aspiration of building a land full of bright opportunities for all citizens. Research evidence abound from many fields of study that the care and support received by a child in terms of good health, nutrition and psycho-social care and protection are crucial in the formation and development of intelligence, personality and social behavior.
Integrated Early Childhood Development (IECD) which is a recent idea views the survival, growth and development of young children as mutually inter-dependent. It utilizes multi-disciplinary and cross-sectoral intervention in promoting good outcomes in early childhood, fully incorporates support to early learning and psycho-social development. This is also centred on support to the families and caregivers who provide the primary care to young children 0-3 years which are considered very crucial to a child’s subsequent physical, mental, and social development. Most importantly it is believed that learning starts at conception (Obanya 2004).
1.2 Statement of Problem
Although, the National Policy on Education (1998; 2004) specifies the guidelines for operating Pre-Primary Education in Nigeria, it did not specify the care and support requirements for children aged 0 to 3 years. This is a major gap that has left the operation of Early Childhood Care and Pre- Primary Education more in the hands of private operators without adequate guidelines or standards. It is sad to note that in spite of the ideals spelt out in the National policy on Education (2004). The material resources, the facilities, etc. are practically lacking, and where they are available they are not being effectively utilized. There still exist schools that are being operated by proprietors and teachers who lack knowledge of the basic principles guiding learning at the foundational stage of education. This is a trend that foreshadows danger not only for pre-school pupils but also for their parents and the nation as a whole. If pre-school education must play its role then the need to investigate the extent of compliance of the preschool institutions to the prescribed minimum standards becomes imperative.
This study therefore investigates the need for there to be a body that will regulate the availability of practical lacking materials and effective utility of available facilities. However, provision of adequate knowledge of basic principles guiding learning at the foundational stage to Proprietors and Teachers; hence, an optimum compliance of preschool institutions to the Prescribed Minimum Standards.
1.3 Purpose of Study
This study therefore seeks to:
1.4 Significance of Study
In as much as Integrated Early Childhood Development (IECD) aims to incorporate interventions from the various sectors of health, nutrition, education protection and participation to ensure positive outcomes for the child in terms of cognitive achievement, care and development, this study should underscore the importance of IECD as a developmental intervention for children.
It should also stimulate in our early childhood care centers positive action toward the provision of care and support to the child in form of good nutrition and health for children a healthy and safe environment, psycho-social stimulation, protection and security. This study therefore becomes important in as much as it will provide an insight to the quality of early childhood educational delivery.
The results will be useful for decision-making process on matters affecting early childhood development programmes. It will also assess the roles the various stakeholders, school owners, teachers, schools, inspectors, parents etc. in ensuring compliance to the prescribed standards of curriculum implementation.
It is also being hoped that the study will serve as a drive to the government to monitor and evaluate pre-school facilities and operations even after approval has been granted.
1.5 Research Questions
The following questions will be answered in this study:
1.6 Scope of the Study
This study seeks to evaluate the implementation of integrated early childhood (IEC) minimum standard in early childhood institutions and will cover 5 publicly owned schools in Surulere Local Government Areas of Lagos state.
1.7 Definition of Terms
QUALITY ASSURANCE: This term refers to administrative and procedural activities implemented in a system so that requirements and goals for a product, service or activity will be fulfilled. It is the systematic measurement, comparison with a standard, monitoring of processes and an associated feedback loop that confers error prevention. This can be contrasted with quality control, which is focused on process output.
EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION: This refers to all forms of educational provision given to children ages 0-8 years. In Nigeria Early childhood education comprises of learning through socialization, day care centers, nursery schools and first three years of basic school.
Early childhood education also includes any type of educational program that serves children in the preschool years and is designed to improve later school performance.
Early childhood education is a branch of educational theory which relates to the teaching of young children up until the age of about eight, with a particular focus on education, notable in the period before the start of compulsory education.
CHILD DEVELOPMENT: Child Development here refers to conglomerates of physical and behavioural signs and functions which serve as a yard stick of mental capacity. The main four categories of early childhood development include the physical, social, emotional and intellectual development. At this period child learns through exploration, experimentation and observations.
Child development refers to the biological, psychological and emotional changes that occur in human beings between birth and the end of adolescence, as the individual progresses from dependency to increasing autonomy. It is a continuous process with a predictable sequence yet having a unique course for every child.
INTEGRATED EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT (IECD): This is an idea that views the survival, growth and development of young children as mutually inter-dependent. IECD utilizes multi-disciplinary and cross-sectoral intervention in promoting good outcomes in early childhood.
ENVIRONMENT: This term refers to all the external conditions and influences that surround an individual.
PLAY: This term describes those spontaneous activities that a child engages in either alone or in cooperation with other children or adults.
EARLY CHILDHOOD CARE EDUCATION (ECCE): This is the education given to children who are within the age range of 0-8 years.
EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMME: An educational program is a program written by the institution or ministry of education which determines the learning progress of each subject in all the stages of formal education.
Educational programs help people decide if they are going to be a teacher or not. They’re mostly in high schools called C4 program. C4 programs helps students in high school decided what they are going to be before they get to college, so they do not waste their time taking class they do not need in college or wasting their parents money on classes and books they do not need.
CURRICULUM: Curriculum is an indispensable instrument in any educational programme. It has often been contended that its fundamental nature derives from the fact that it is the very foundation for any education system.
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