Management strategies for funding and sustaining early childhood education in nigeria
human capital development and knowledge economy and taking care of the child'sdevelopmen
child can attain (UNICEF Nigeria, Undated). The learning process starts from thepar
I tegrated Early Childhood Development (IE
the education that children receive during the early stage of their childhood(R
learning (Bowman, Donovan and Burns. 2001). Furthermore, Early Childhood Education
I orin, *Corresponding author: [email protected]
develops in children school readiness, with positive economic and social impacts lastingwell into adulthood from higher education attainment and less chance of involvement incriminal activities, to higher status employment and higher earnings (Schweinhart, 2007.
Sparling, Ramey and Ramey, 2007).
In the National Policy on Education,
the Federal Republic of Nigeria (2004), Early
Childhood Education is labelled as Pro-primary Education and is defined as the educationgiven in an educational institution to children aged three to five plus prior to their enteringthe primary school. As stated in the policy document, the purpose of pre-primaryeducation includes, among others:1. Providing a smooth transition from the home to the school;2. preparing the child for the primary level of education;3. providing adequate care and supervision for the children while their parents are at
4. Inculcating in the child the spirit of enquiry and creativity through the exploration of
nature, and the local environment, playing with toys, artistic and musical activities,etc.
5. Teaching the rudiments of numbers, letters, colours, shapes forms, etc. through play,
Appropriate levels of Government (State and Local) are required to establish and enforceeducational laws that will ensure that established pre-primary schools are well-run, pre-primary teachers well qualified, and other appropriate academic infrastructure provided.
The vital roles played by early childhood education in the overall development of a
child are recognised all over the world. This is evident in the attention and committedefforts on early child education in these countries- New Zealand, Gambia, Senegal. Mali,Zambia.
Nigeria also signed up to the Jomiten Declaration on Education for all (EFA) in 1990, to
provide comprehensive Early Childhood Education and Care for all pre-primary scholars.
Early childhood Education, now included in the UBE programmes requiring every publicschool to have a pre-primary linkage, had hitherto been an exclusive preserve of the privatesector. Though, Early Childhood Education is included in the National Policy inEducation (19 81. 1998, and 2004). the Federal government of Nigeria showed morecommitment with the inauguration of the Early Childhood Education Policy in 2004.
To achieve these laudable objectives of Early Childhood Education requires provision of
basic resources such as qualified and competent teachers and care givers as well asappropriate learning environment in terms of space, security/safety and materials forplaying/learning. Adequate provision of these resources requires adequate funds. Thispaper is therefore focused on the existing funding strategies of early childhood education inNigeria, with a view to suggesting appropriate funding strategies for effectiveness of EarlyChildhood Education.
Concept of Early Childhood Education
Early Child care and Development has been variously defined (Uzodinma and Akinware,
1. The education provided for children 0-3 years in Day Care centres and for 3
years to less than 6 years in Nursery schools.
2. A community-based, low-cost project for the holistic development of the child from 0-
3. A comprehensive approach to policies and programmes for children from birth to 8
years of age, their parents and caregivers with the purpose of protecting the children'srights to develop their full cognitive, emotional, social and physical potentials.
Early Childhood Development is also perceived as the foundation of human development,economic growth, social change and transformation in Africa (Aidoo, 2008). Literaturereveals that there are three types of Early Childhood Education which are either home-basedor centre-based. These are:1. Day care education2. Nursery school education and3. Kindergarten education
Day care education is given to children of 0-2 years while Nursery school education isoffered to children of ages 3-5 years. Kindergarten education is an integral part of Nurseryeducation and generally restricted to children aged 5 years. It is a preparatory class forformal primary school education.
Early Childhood Education is flexible in structure with baby-friendly and learning
friendly environment. The infrastructure has specification and varieties with tender andsensitive furniture. The establishment and management of Early Childhood Educationcentres are facilitated and regulated by government rules and regulations, which ensurestandardization but very little uniformity.
In Nigeria today, with the incorporation of Early Childhood Education into the UBE
programme in 2004, every public primary school is to integrate Early ChildhoodEducation into i t s programme. This integration is backed up by government financing andsupported by the community, individuals and foreign sponsorship. For instance, threestates in the Federation namely Kwara, Kaduna and Kano were given special World BankGrant in 2008-2011 lo set up model Early Childhood Education centres. In Kwara slate,model Early Childhood Education is run in public schools with support mainly from thenational purse through counterpart funding and international agencies such as the WorldBank, UNICEF, and ESSPIN (Education Sector Support Programme in Nigeria).
Funding of Early Childhood Education
Funding is very crucial to achieving success in any public service. In a study conducted byAlabi (2003) on Evaluation of Universal Basic Education Process on Primary SchoolEnrolment in Kwara state. Early Childhood Education was not implemented at all. Among thereasons for zero percent implementation had to do with funding policies. In Early ChildhoodEducation, adequate funds need to be made available for provision of many resources. Theseresources include: facilities and stimulating materials for teaching, training and re-trainingof staff (teachers and caregivers) in appropriate institutions such as colleges of education anduniversities), enrichment and sensitization of programmes through regular workshops,monitoring, uniforms, feeding, immunisation, supervision and inspection, report writing,publications, school meals and training manuals. As rightly observed by Ijaiya (2001 ),
with adequate resources, access to education can be increased while quality suffers with poorfunding.
In developed countries, the funding of pro school education is usually given a prime
place in the nations' budgets. America for instance estimated the cost of providing aquality preschool education to be S70 billion a year with annual cost per child of about$8,700 (Ajayi, 2008). Likewise in Ireland, the total funding made available for childcare is436.7 million Euros ($580 million). Other countries that realised the economic and socialbenefits of pre-school education and invested greatly in it include Brazil, Zambia, Niger,South Africa and Ghana (Rarnires, Paira and Almeida, 2009).
With permission granted for private efforts in the provision of pre-primary education in
Nigeria, the resultant Day Care centres and Nursery/primary schools are profit-orientedand self-financed. Proprietors run the schools with finances from school fees and otherlevies charged the parents. The fees could range from N500 per month to N5,000 or aboveespecially in the urban metropolis like Lagos. The better the facilities, the higher the feesthey charge. For the neighbourhood type (Jele o simi in Yoruba) as well as Nurseryschools in the rural areas, fees are charged according to how interested parents can afford.
The "Jele o simi" group, for instance stalled with Nl0 per day per child (now upgraded tobetween N20 and N50 per day) in florin metropolis. Many parents are poor and unable topay even the minimal fee of N20. Due to accruing meagre finances, the children areusually cared for by one or at most two untrained caregivers who do it to earn a living.
Children are kept in crowded environment, chorusing alphabets to keep them busybetween 8.am and 1,00pm or later in other places until their parents come for them. So, insuch an tin-conducive environment, l i t t l e is learnt by the children. Same goes for thelearning environment of rural Nursery schools where facilities and quality of teachers areusually below standard. With possibly the exemption of the few Nursery schoolsestablished by some universities, colleges of education, companies and a few richindividuals, the quality of facilities and staff is generally low (Ejieh, 2006). In terms offinancing, therefore, parents and local communities manage and run these centres withminimal financial resources and inadequate materials.
With the emergence of public Early Childhood Education integrated into public
primary)' schools, government's participation and ownership are expanding, courtesy of theUBE Act (2004). Funding is mainly through FGN-UBE counterpart funds where bothfederal and state governments supply funds to Basic Education. According to UBEC(2009), this is the first time that Basic Education has a quantum of funds being pumpedinto it. Sources of financing are both external and internal.
UBE Intervention Fund from the Federal Government of Nigeria's Consolidated Revenue
Fund, Table 1 shows the FGN/ UBE Matching Grant between 2006 and 2010.
Table 1: Budgetary Allocations from the FGN-UBE Matching Grant (2006-2010)
Source: UBEC (2011) update on the Activities of UBEC
The UBE law stipulated that 5 % of these grants are allocated to Early ChildhoodEducation and Development in all the 36 states and the ECT. However, the drawback here isthat many states have been found wanting in honouring the system of counterpart fundingput in place to boost UBE implementation. This development has drawn the displeasure ofthe Federal Government and the Minister of Education in recent times. In fact, a recentmeeting of the Minister of Education with State Governors centred mainly on educating thelatter on the counterpart funding and the way States' attitude is adversely affecting theimplementation of UBE, including ECCD. Other internal sources of funding may includecomplementary funding from State and Local Governments; funds or consolidatedcontributions in form of Federal guaranteed credits; local individual/corporate, aswell as international donor grants; and contributions for privately owned ECD centres,Nurseries and Pre-Primary Schools, by communities, NGOs and private individuals,through personal savings loans (UNESCO/ 1BE, 2006).
External sources of funding for ECD may include the following:
1. World Bank — providing grants for Early Childhood Education model centres and
training of teachers, caregivers and stimulating materials through school grant.
2. IJN1CEF and UNESCO - in some local communities3. Education Sector Support Programme in Nigeria (RSSPHST) under DE1D — technical
support. For example, involved in ‘turn around’ of College of Education. Oro inKwara State for the training and production of Early Childhood Education teachers aswell as curriculum development for NCCE.
In spite of these varied sources of funding, much more s t i l l need to be done in terms ofquality of Early Childhood Education teachers and caregivers. supply of facilities andlearning materials to provide a conducive learning environment, monitoring/supervision ofECCD programmes as well as production and distribution of appropriate manuals,materials and publications.
Funding Strategies for Early Childhood Education Programmes
To be able to generate adequate funds to turn around Early Childhood Education for good,the following funding strategies are recommended:
Increased Government Allocation
As given a prime place in the developed nations' budgets, ECCD needs to be speciallybudgeted for and/or increase its percentage of UBE matching grant to at least 10%. This isnecessary in view of the recognised immediate and long-term benefits of Early ChildhoodEducation to the recipients such as improved cognitive abilities, social and motor skills(Osakwe, 2009). Such increased funds should be focused on improving the quality of allresources - human and material- to provide a more conducive environment for theachievement of Early Childhood Education objectives. There is thus the need to makerealistic budget for ECCD subsector. The Nigerian education budgets may need to besubstantially increased and or increased percentage accorded to preschool programmes.
State Governments also need, to improve their attitude to counterpart funding system tomake it work for ECCD.
Sustained International Support
Various international organisations have contributed funds, materials and technical support to
gel Early Childhood Education to i t s present level/status in Nigeria. Such organisations
include UNICEF, UNESCO, ESSPIN and World Bank. In order to sustain and possibly
increase such contributions, efforts; need to be made by the various governments and their
agencies (UI3EC, SUBEB etc) towards prudence and accountability in their use of such
supports. The donors should insist on at least two years of independent private monitoring
and fund it.
Financial Allocation to Early Childhood Education Teachers Training Institutions
One of the major oversights of the government in educational planning is the un-preparedness of the right teachers for policy implementation. It has been the bane ofeducational development (Ijaiya, 2004). The ECCD suffered the same fate throughoutNigeria. Few educational institutions run Early Childhood Education as a discipline inNigeria. In Kwara state for instance, College of Education, Oro is the only institutionwhich stalled the programme in 2008 with the technical supports of ESSPIN. It is similar allover Nigeria. The slates had to resort to transfer of primary school teachers to ECCD classesas an alternative even though most were not ECE professionals. Teachers hold the reign tothe success of any educational policy, more so for 0-5 years. Therefore, more funds needto be directed to mount Early Childhood Education programmes in teacher educationinstitutions. The extra allocation would be needed to equip the relevant sections of theinstitution with appropriate and adequate resources and materials to train Early ChildhoodEducation teachers and caregivers.
Equity Funding of Early Childhood Education Programmes
Equity funding is recommended to lake care of the various groups needing ECCD servicesas done in New Zealand. In that country, the groups include low socio-economiccommunities, children with special needs and non-English speaking backgrounds,language and culture oilier than English (NZ Education, 2011). In the case of Nigeria,groups to be considered should include low socio-economic factors, special needschildren, destitute children, location (rural/urban) and proprietorship (private and public) ofthe centres.
Financial Focus on Establishment of Early Childhood Education Centres
For now, every public primary school should have a well-equipped section dedicated to EarlyChildhood Education so that it can be brought to parents' doorstep. With lime, purely EarlyChildhood Education centres should be established to create the unique environment requiredfor this level of education. This requires a lot of planning of which funds- immediate andsustained, constitute a very crucial part. In addition, matching grants and other grants should begiven to communities to set up Early Childhood Education centres which are run at reducedcost to parents.
Cost- sharing among Stakeholder and education of Education
Though it is good that the government should shoulder a lot of responsibility, reality on the
ground is that Nigeria is still a third world country. It cannot afford to carry all the load of
education and other competing sector. There is therefore a need to share the cost of
Universal Basic Education Law implies that education is free but free education
concept is a relative term. Education has never been free anywhere. So, if parents arefeeding their children already, there is the need for nutritional education on the quality ofmeals that children need to grow and develop. Due to ignorance, many parents servechildren meals that are not beneficial to the body such as garri, eba
and especially biscuitschildren take to school that are laden with all sorts of additives and preservatives from thefactory such as caffeine and colouring. Instead, parents and children should be educated in theschool, on television, radio on the type of food needed by children. Nigeria is blessed withmany fruits round the year. Schools can prescribe the fruits that are in season e.g. oranges,banana, carrot, apple, and garden egg for children to bring to school. On weekly or dailybasis, teachers can tell children the types of snacks to bring to school at low cost. It will goa long way to educate the parents and children on the quality of food needed to grow anddevelop along the lines expected by ECCD.
The Federal Government of Nigeria has no doubt demonstrated more commitment to EarlyChildhood Education and Development (ECCD). This is evident from the inauguration ofECCD policy in 2004, backed up by government financing and supported by thecommunity, individuals and foreign sponsorship. However, much more still needs to bedone in terms of adequate funds for quality teachers/caregivers, supply of facilities andlearning materials as well as monitoring of ECCD programmes.
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Dr. Alabi, Faust Titilayo
is a senior lecturer at the department of Educational Management, University
of Ilorin, Nigeria. She is a registered member of teachers registration council of Nigeria, national
association of educational administration and planning ,national association of education researchers and
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