assessment of policy implementation on Early Childhood Education (ECE)



Background of the Study

Most countries of the world have provided various educational programmes for their

citizens because education is recognized as the cornerstone for sustainable development. In

Nigeria, the Cross River state Education Sector Analysis (CRSESA), (2011) described

education as the bedrock for national and personal development because the socio-economic

development of any nation is wholly dependent on the level and quality of education given to

its citizens. According to Olalaye and Omotayo (2009), education is the fulcrum around

which development of any country revolves. In this context, education includes any

experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts. This is why

developed countries always guard their educational industries with jealousy and total

commitment. In order to address issues of holistic transformation, the Federal Republic of

Nigeria (2004) referred to education as an instrument ‘par excellence’ for national

development and has initiated several educational policies over the past decade. One of such

policies is the 2004 edition of the National Policy on Education, which specify the objectives

and guidelines of action on Early Childhood Education (ECE) (Agbo, 2008).

Early Childhood Education consists of varied formal or informal initiatives required

for children from birth to pre-school age to make them thrive. These activities are intended to

effect developmental changes in children prior to their entry into primary school. Mitchell

(2011) describe ECE as the overall development of the child; physically, socially and

intelligently. It is the foundation for a life-long education for children which provide for the

physical, motor, health, nutritional, intellectual, aesthetic, emotional and social development

of the pre-school child. According to Mezieobi (2006), if a child’s education can provide


these vital fundamental necessities, it is likely to have an important and strong relationship

with the pupils’ performance at the primary school level and perhaps at the secondary and

tertiary levels. Developmental ideologies and theories of Dewey, Montessori, Piaget,

Chomsky, Vygotsky and so on influenced the practices of ECE (Bahago, 2010).

Contextually, ECE is the bedrock upon which excellent basic and sound education is built for

children through vigorous activities that lead to mental abilities at this stage.

Unprecedented attention to young children has created concerns on parents about

their children’s learning, and readiness for school. Parents are more concerned than ever

before about their children’s: learning, care, protection and readiness for school and values

for life challenges and others . Early childhood teachers are taking on the challenges of

serving all children equitably and well. And policymakers are looking carefully at the

outcomes reported for children participating in early education programs. Motivated by these

concerns and by the growing emphasis on accountability, parents, teachers and policymakers

all want more information as they make decisions on how to foster children’s early learning a

and development (Nakpodia, 2003). The World Declaration on the Survival, Protection and

development of Children in 1990 undertook a joint commitment to make an urgent universal

appeal to give every child a better future. In addition, the World Conference on Education for

All (EFA) and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC, 2005)

emphasized urgent priority to ensure access to improved quality of education for all children.

The Universal Basic Education (UBE) Act of 2000 cites ECE as an integral part of basic

education. Bush (2001) consider this a step in the right direction in achieving the EFA goals.

Prior to the introduction of Universal Basic Education, Nigeria had early childhood centres

managed basically by private sectors, thereby making this educational provision inaccessible

to every child. (Awoniyi, 2006).


In pursuant of the development and implementation of the ECE, Sub-sections 13 of

the FRN (2004) National Policy on Education refers to ECE as the education given in an

educational institution to children prior to their entering the primary school. It includes the

crèche, the nursery and the kindergarten. It enumerated eight (8) objectives of early

childhood/pre-primary education to include: effecting a smooth transition from the home to

the school, preparing the child for the primary level of education, providing adequate care

and supervision for the children while their parents are at work, creating individuals who are

responsible citizens and so on. According to Napkodia (2010), the objectives cover

adequately the three main aspects of developmental domains as recommended by Benjamin

Bloom (cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains).

Using the whole- child concept, the objectives of ECE can be categorised as catering

for social, emotional, mental and physical needs of the child. So the ECE centres could be

regarded as an extension of the home because the primary concern of the home, namely,

social, emotional and mental adjustment, is majorly pursued in the ECE centres. This implies

that child-care facilities have to be provided, these facilities need to do more than just

provision of safety of the children but also to cater for intellectual development as well,

(Maduewesi, 2000).

To ensure the attainment of these objectives, the Government outlines its

responsibilities and strategies in the National Policy on Education to include:

Ø Encouraging private efforts in the provision of pre-primary education;

Ø Making provisions in teacher education programmes for specialization in early

child-hood education;


Ø Ensuring that the medium of instruction is principally the mother tongue or the

language of the immediate community, and to this end, will develop and produce

textbooks in orthography of many more Nigerian languages;

Ø Ensuring that the main method of teaching at this level shall be through play and

that the curriculum of teacher education is oriented to achieve this;

Ø Regulating, monitoring, controlling and setting a minimum standard for the

operation of early childhood/pre-primary education;

Ø Ensuring full participation of government, communities and teachers’

associations in the running and maintenance of early childhood education

facilities (FRN, 2004).

The FRN placed the child at the centre of learning activities, but left out execution

mostly in the hands of ‘private owners’ most of whom lack knowledge of the national

philosophy behind ECE (FRN,2004). One wonders, if these ‘private owners’ can implement

the policy as was designed to be done (Borishade, 2009). The thrust of this study is find out

the extent of implementation of the stipulated FGN 2004 edition of the NPE Guidelines of

action on ECE. The guideline of action borders on: School establishment, teacher factors,

language of instruction, method of teaching among others. This NPE serve as a guide to the

current ECE and other levels of educational programme in the country. Eresimadu (2008)

insists: for this educational level to be a reality in Nigeria, the aspects of the 2004 edition of

the NPE, that stipulated government’s guidelines of action need to be considered seriously.

Supportively, Adenipekun (2004) ensued: for a nation to develop quality ECE programme,

faithful utilization of Government`s guidelines for such institutions is the only sure way.

Adesina (2007) opined: in spite the glaring recognition given to ECE programme the real

challenge will lie in the successful implementation of this educational policy guidelines by all


stakeholders. Certainly, objectives of ECE in any country can only be achieved if the policy

is consistently and effectively implemented.

Implementation, simply put is the transformation of set plan or policy into action

which links the policy plans to their actual performance. It is a critical stage in the policy

planning process (Haddad, 2004). Policy implementation in this context refers to the

activities that are carried out in the light of established policies. It involves the process of

converting financial, material, technical and human inputs into outputs – goods and services.

Implementation is a major problem confronting developing nations such as Nigeria. In

implementing a plan, changes may be necessary due to unsatisfactory results or pressures

emanating from outside. According to Gallagher and Maxwell (2004), the mere translations

of abstract policy intentions into concrete implementation can cause redesign; qualifications

of the personnel to implement the plan and clear description of expectations or actual

performance expected in the specified task must be seriously considered. As such,

Adamolekun (2003) insists that if the goal of this programme is to provide the best possible

education for all Nigerian children, implementing personnel should be skilful and

knowledgeable. It is therefore necessary to assess policy implementation on ECE.

Assessment of policy implementation on ECE, in the context of the study, refers to evaluation

of how the government course of action has been utilized towards successful Early Childhood

educational programme (Ngwagwu, 2007).

Regrettably, eight years after the last revision (2004) of the NPE, most of the

measures and proposals seemed mere formalities. Nakpodia (2010) observed, the

government proposed encouraging private efforts in the establishment of ECE centres but

what is obtainable now is a far cry from all expectations. These private individuals open these

institutions without adequate planning, and the aftermath being a systematic mal-adjustment


of our young ones. Similarly, where even standard ones exist, they are relatively few and

concentrated within the urban centres and hence elitist. Presently, there are so many illequipped,

sub-standard kindergarten and nursery institutions scattered all over the urban

centres and some in the rural centres of Nigeria (Amakievi, 2013) ). Standards or quality is an

anathema to most of these ECE centres. Most ECE centres even charge higher fees than what

many model secondary schools and even Federal universities do charge. The extra-ordinarily

prohibitive high cost has not been reciprocally matched by an encouraging provision of

facilities and basic equipment (UNESCO, 2009). The ECE being the ultimate background

needed by the child to smoothly transit to the formal school system need a solid foundation,

any shaky foundation naturally will affect the other levels .

The consequences of the above type of learning environment include; poor academic

performance , low enrolment, school drop- out and so on. Depemu (2004) stated; the Federal

Ministry of Education (FME) has been a concerned over the fate of pupils in public schools,

the past few years. Schools have been performing poorly in the national and placement

examinations in tests administered by state Education Service. The report by the FME

recently is that 16 million Nigerian children are not enrolled in schools across the country is

not a cheering news. Of that figure, 11 million should be in primary schools while the other

five million ought to be in secondary schools, (The Tide,2013). This situation has, for

sometimes now, remained a big challenge to the education sector and amounts to an

indictment on government’s inability to do all the right things. There is need for a lay down

solid foundation for future growth of the country children. Amakievi, (2013) argued that

with underperforming education sectors (heavy repetition rates and poor quality) early

dropouts might be perfectly rational in developing countries even in the absence of financial



There has been observed wide disparities in children educational standards and

learning achievements as a result of substantial rates of drop out – non-completion of school

programme. School Drop outs are children who start but do not complete a cycle of basic

education. Such children are leaving schooling without acquiring the most basic skills. Their

brief schooling experience consists frequently of limited learning opportunities in

overcrowded classrooms with insufficient learning materials and under-qualified teachers

(Alexander, 2008). Children of different ages and abilities are mixed together in single

classrooms without proper adaptation of teaching methods to improve learning and to induce

school engagement . Such schooling circumstances, jeopardise meaningful access to

education for many children for many children are registered in schools to participate but fail

to learn, enrolled for several years but fail to progress and drop out from school,( Ejieh


Qualified teachers who are equipped with the desired knowledge, skills, competence

commitment, and are empowered to perform their tasks professionally are needed in schools

so as to prepare and equip learners for all aspects of life (Onyeachu, 2008). Actually, the

FRN (2004) affirmed that no educational system can rise above the level of its teachers,

thereby, identifying the fact that laudable educational initiatives can collapse simply because

the ‘teacher factor’ is not taken seriously. Policy implementation guidelines clearly

emphasized teacher specialization on ECE through teacher training colleges. Ironically, this

policy statements on this level of education seem to be a failed one as it is handled largely by

the Private Sector Who cannot afford to maintain professional personnel. Number of teachers

as reported by National Scientific Council on the Developing Child (NSCDC2004).; is

about 124,727 pre-primary school teachers for the 2004/2005 academic year for the entire

nation, (NSG, 2005). Nakpodia (2011) decried that currently the students participating in the

National Teachers Institute (NTI) programmes (Grade II as well as NCE) and the teeming


population of students in most Nigerian colleges of education studying primary education

studies (PES) are not trained for early child education contexts. The training these students

receive makes them adequate for primary schooling only so there are no qualified ECE

teachers (Yusuf, 2010).

The school administrative structure affects the whole policy implementation and

functioning of the ECE programme. With the head teacher occupying the leadership position

Makinde, (2003) recommends that , he/she must possess adequate knowledge and technical

capability in facing the task ahead. Though as a school administrator, he/she is a teacher,

possessing teaching skills. He/she must be able to demonstrate the teaching ability and other

teachers should learn from him/her the techniques of teaching. According to Bahago (2010),

most school heads in Nigeria have no regular training courses , because it is believed that

he/she does not require any special training and all that is needed is experience on the job.

With rapid expansion of educational system, Schools are now becoming more complex and

projected increase in school sizes. It is now important that teachers in training who will

eventually head the school need to be knowledgeable in rudiments of ECE administration,

there is need to equip the teachers who will handle the situation and the accompanying

implementation problems effectively, (Akinbote, 2001).

The Nigerian Policy on Education of the FRN (2004) in its provision for pre-primary

education stipulated that : the government shall regulate and control the operation of preprimary

education but a look at most of our pre-primary schools show that this is done by

people that are corrupt leading to a mess of whole exercise. There is evidence of low

monitoring, regulatory and controlling exercise, ( Hamza,2004). The FGN recommended

that a Minimum Standard Package be developed and approved to ensure quality of service

delivery. It is still unclear how this package is being utilised as most the publc and private

ECE centres does support effective learning. Yusuf (2010) regretted that many ECE centres


are substandard as they lack minimum standard package document for positive guide to the

operation ECE centres. Consequently, Ejieh,(2009), observed wide disparities in children

academic standard and learning achievements.

Additionally, it would appear that the use of mother tongue or the language of the

immediate environment for language of instruction as well as play-way method for teaching

are mere theoretical provisions that are not to be strictly adhered. Up to date, there are no

sufficient textbooks on many Nigerian language orthography to facilitate teaching and

learning in mother tongue for children at this level. The majority of those available are

foreign-based and expensive (Afolayan, 2010). Recent school census data disseminated by

the Federal Ministry of Education showed increase in participation in ECE programme with

more than 1.4 million young children enrolled nationwide in 2003, (Agbo, 2008). According

to the Summary of Cross River State Universal Basic Education Commission, school

attendance among children aged 0 to 5 is increasing especially in Ogoja Education Zone. In

2006, the percentage of children aged 0 to 5 enrolled in ECE programs reached 43%

compared to 27.5% in 1996 (CRSUBEC, 2007). However, Bahago (2010) observed that there

are significant differences regarding access to school between these age groups. Only 15.5%

of children in the 0-3 years group attended nursery schools in 2006, compared with 76% of

children aged 3-5 that had access to pre-school in the same year.

Play is enjoyable and spontaneous and helps the children learn social and motor

skills and cognitive thinking. The play method of teaching that is advocated in the National

Policy on pre-primary education is not effectively used in most of the schools, as most of the

teachers are not trained on the use of it. According to Agbo, (2008), Proprietors and teachers

provide the children with toys to play with mainly for recreational purposes and not for

instruction. Very few, if any, nursery school teachers in the country have received formal

training in the use of the play method. Through play, children learn family rules, develop


language and socialization skills , communicate emotions, think and be creative and solve

problems. As they grow, play helps them learn how to act and what is expected of him or

her. Even Parents, need to make time to play with their children. Toys, materials, and sports

equipment should be provided so that they can play with others (Baker, 2002).

Despite the enunciated objectives of ECE programme and Government’s

commendable efforts towards realizing the objectives, the objectives of ECE has not been

fully realized. There exist indications of implementation pit falls evident in proliferation of

sub-standard ECE centres which result to the school dropout, low enrolment of pupils in

the primary school level. Regrettably, Ejieh (2009) decried: public schools in most states of

the federation are either in poor states of disrepairs and overcrowded or lack basic

infrastructural facilities necessary to aid learning. Addressing low school enrolment , The

Tide (2013) regrets a situation where children sit on bare floor for learning or study under the

trees. It is unthinkable to imagine how such a scenario can encourage school enrolment. Forty

per cent of Nigerian children aged 6-11 do not attend any primary school with the Northern

region recording the lowest school attendance rate in the country, particularly for girls.

Clearly, benefits that may be accrued from ECE and the commitments made by the

government notwithstanding, there still exists poor performance of ECE sector characterized

by low enrolment of children and high rate of dropouts of children who have phobia for

schooling. Similarly, the report of the Cross River State Universal Basic Education Board

(SUBEB) supervisory committee showed that in spite of all the laudable goals of NPE and

efforts made to improve the quality of ECE schools, there exists significant low academic

achievement of children who transit from ECE in most Local Government Areas in Cross

River State, especially the northern area, (SUBEB,2007). The situation has deteriorated to the

extent that primary school administrators doubt the preparedness of children promoted from

ECE centres to primary schools. It seems that children who go through ECE are not


adequately prepared for entry into primary schools. This may cast aspersion on the way the

FGN policy guidelines on ECE are being implemented. Given the foundational and basic

importance of this level of education, it becomes pertinent to investigate the extent to which

government have actually aligned itself to the guidelines on the implementation of the ECE

programme in Ogoja Education Zone, Cross River State.

Statement of the Problem

Globally, Early Childhood Education (ECE) has been recognized as the fulcrum for

future education of children. The 2004 edition of the National Policy on Education is a

foundation guide to the establishment and management of early childhood services so as to

meet up with society’s expectations for children. Significant innovations on ECE has been

made in during the last eight years including; UBE Act of 2004 which expanded the scope

of ECE as an inclusion of Basic education, all primary schools must have a linkage of ECE

to carter for under school children. This approach is developmentally appropriate as planning

was based on observations of what children could do in the areas of physical, social,

emotional, language and intellectual development.

In spite of government declaration to participate actively in ECE, there is disparity on

the extent to which ECE policy has been implemented. This is a major gap that has left most

ECE centres in various parts of the country no more than mere exploitative mills where

children are gradually led to their intellectual deaths at such an early age. They lack material

resources, the facilities, personnel and so on, and where they are available they are grossly

inadequate. Consequently, there exist indications of implementation pitfalls characterized by

proliferation of substandard ECE centres, high rate of dropouts, poor performance, and low

enrolment of children in the primary schools among others. Cross River State as one of the 36

states in the Nigerian , and one of the six states in the South-South geo-political zone has not

been insulated from the various efforts at implementing ECE. Though successive


governments in the state have tried to address the issue above, the effect of the policies and

programmes on reducing poor educational background among the populace has been that of


The above trend portends danger not only for ECE pupils but also for their parents

and the nation as a whole. If ECE must play its role then the need to assess the extent of the

implementation of its policy strategies, becomes imperative. Hence, the question that the

study addresses: to what extent has the ECE programme been implemented in Ogoja

Education Zone of Cross River State?

Purpose of the Study

The general purpose of this study is to assess the extent to which the 2004 edition of

NPE Guidelines of action on ECE has been implemented at ECE centres in Ogoja Education

Zone of Cross River State. The study intends to determine specifically, the extent to which:

  1. Government has encouraged private efforts in the provision of ECE.
  2. Provisions in Teacher Training Institutions for students who want to specialize in early

childhood education have been made.

  1. The mother-tongue or the language of the immediate community has been used as the

medium of instruction.

  1. Play method of teaching has been used in ECE centres in Northern senatorial District ,

Cross River State.

  1. Government has been regulating, controlling, monitoring, supervising and enforcing

educational laws at ECE centres;

  1. ECE facilities have been provided and maintained by the government.

Significance of the Study

The study has both theoretical and practical significance.


Theoretically, the outcome of the study will contribute to the general understanding

of the cognitive development of children. This will allow all stakeholders to fully appreciate

the cognitive, emotional, physical, social and educational growth that children go through

from birth and into early adulthood. Attention will be focused on the idea of developmentally

appropriate education— an education with environments, curriculum, materials, and

instruction that are suitable for students in terms of their physical and cognitive abilities.

Practically, the findings of the study will be of immense benefit to all stakeholders of

early childhood education: government, parents ,community, administrators, teachers and

care-givers and others who are concerned with the effective implementation of childhood

education. This is because assessment of the implementation of this policy remains vital

yardstick to ensure realization of the objectives of Childhood Education.

The findings on the extent of government encouragement to private efforts in the

provision of ECE would enable the government to know the extent its promise has been

fulfilled, and thus, be poised to adequately fill any gap. The private sector would be enable

to be poised at adequately demand for government’s assistance towards provision of ECE. It

would enable childhood education policy makers to formulate appropriate policies all geared

towards ensuring that the government adequately encourage private efforts in the provision of


By providing information on the extent to which provisions has been made for

specialization in ECE carrier in Teacher Training Institutions, the attention of the government

will be drawn towards ensuring the establishment and provision of requisite resources for

students who want to specialize in early childhood education. The would equally discover

areas of need and give necessary assistance. Such Institutions would also utilize the

information to be poised at ensuring their continuous existence and sustainability by

maintenance of the facilities in their possession. Also, students, Parents and the community


would appreciate this government’s effort and sought out ways they can complement

government efforts.

Information generated on the extent to which mother-tongue or the language of the

immediate community has been used as the medium of instruction would enable early

childhood educators to ensure that mother-tongue is effectively utilized as a medium of

instruction. Further, the information would guide FME in formulating appropriate policies

that facilitate the mother-tongue is effectively utilized as a medium of instruction. It would

enable various agents of socialization such as the family ensure that mother tongue is

effectively used in communication. It will further help the governmental and nongovernmental

organizations (NGOs) in providing assistance where necessary. Also, the

study would help the government to intervene and to help improve early child education

through the education of well qualified teachers and caretakers for the nation’s futures of


The findings of the study on the extent to which play method of teaching has been

used in ECE centres in Ogoja Education Zone,, Cross River State would enable childhood

educators to adequately utilize play method of teaching. It would enable Ministry of

Education to formulate and implement appropriate policies all geared towards ensuring that

play method of teaching is adequately used in ECE centres. ECE administrators would also

utilize the information to adopt appropriate strategies towards ensuring that play method of

teaching is adequately used in ECE centres. It would enable school psychologists/guidance

counsellors to adopt appropriate strategies in rendering their services. Government and

nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) will further utilize the information in providing

assistance where it is felt necessary.

By providing information on the extent to which government have been regulating,

controlling, monitoring, supervising and enforcing educational laws at ECE centres,


government will in no small measure be poised at ensuring regulation and enforcing

educational laws at ECE centres through their various ministries of education. Also, the

government would intensify regular supervision and monitoring of activities of ECE through

inspectorate units for the sole purpose of supervisions and standardization of ECE centres

with regard to curricula, personnel, inspection, provision, maintenance and control of quality

facilities will be establish.

Information generated on the extent to which ECE facilities have been provided and

maintained by the government would enable the government through their various ministries

of education ensure that facilities are adequate properly maintained. ECE administrators

would also utilize the information to adopt appropriate strategies towards ensuring adequacy

and proper maintenance of ECE facilities by the government. It will enable parents and

guardians to complement government’s efforts in providing and maintaining ECE facilities. It

will further help the governmental and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in providing

assistance where it is felt necessary.

Scope of the Study

The study, assessment of policy implementation on Early Childhood Education (ECE),

will be carried out in all public and approved private primary schools in Ogoja Education

Zone of Cross River State using the head teachers and teachers as respondents. The content

scope is to determine the extent to which the government has participated in terms of:

management/administration of ECE including to: encourage private effort, provide for

training of specialist teachers, regulate the operation, provide and maintain facilities of ECE,

and also curriculum issues such as language of instruction and method of teaching.

Research Questions

The following research questions will guide the study:


  1. To what extent has government encouraged private efforts in the provision of ECE


  1. To what extent has the government made provision for students who want to specialize

in ECE?

  1. To what extent has mother-tongue or the language of the immediate community been

used as a medium of instruction at ECE?

  1. To what extent has play method been applied as a method of teaching at ECE centres?
  2. To what extent has the government participated in regulating, controlling, monitoring,

supervising and enforcing the educational laws with regard to the establishment of

ECE schools?

  1. To what extent has the government provided and maintained ECE facilities?

Research Hypotheses

The study was be guided by one hypothesis to be tested at P<0.5 level of


There is no significant difference between the mean responses of head teachers and

teachers and on the extent of government participation in the implementation of early

childhood in Ogoja Education Zone, Cross River State.




This chapter reviewed previous literature related to this study. The review was

organised under the following sub-headings:

Conceptual Framework

– Concept of Education

– Concept of Early Childhood Education (ECE)

– Concept of National Policy on Education (NPE)

– Concept of Policy Implementation

– Concept of Assessment.

Theoretical Framework

– Behavioural theory

– Socio-cultural Learning Theory

– Cognitive-Developmental theory

– Self/Sensory Activity Theory

Empirical Studies

Extent of Teachers’ involvement in UBE

Perceptions of Teachers and Teaching: A Focus on Early Childhood Education

Assessing Quality in ECE

Assessment of PE and programme implementation of pre-primary School

Administration of Pre-Primary Schools

School based factors influencing implementation of ECDE curriculum

Summary of Review of literature


Conceptual Framework

Concept of Education

The term “Education” originated from “Educere” a Latin word for “to lead forth” or

“to come out”. Education seeks to develop and nourish the innate good qualities and draw

out the best in every individual. According to Aries (2000), educating an individual is an

attempt to give him some desirable knowledge, understanding, skills, interests, attitudes and

critical ‘thinking. Education simply can be regarded as an activity or experience, which

brings the required changes in the behaviours of the learner. It enables a man to become more

efficient, to achieve with increasing facility the legitimate goals of his life. According to

Afolayan (2011), education involves a number of activities on the part of several people,

including the teacher, the pupil, parents, the governments and every citizen of the country. It

starts the very moment a person is born and ends when the person dies. According to Taiwo

(2007), education is the means through which individual acquire adequate and appropriate

knowledge, skills and attitudes and values, known as cognitive, psychomotor and affective

behaviours to be able to function optimally as a citizen. Invariably, education is a means of

preserving, transmitting and improving the culture of any society.

Education remains a priority of every nation as ‘breast milk’ for over all development

of her citizens. Mitchell, Anne; Ripple, & Chanan. (2005) regarded education as a key to

training individuals towards a reliable state of mind for it is an act that has a formative

effect on the mind, character or physical ability of an individual, Fafunwa (2003) described

education as “the aggregate of all the processes by which the child or young adult develops

the abilities, attitudes and other forms of behaviour which are positive to the society in which

he lives”. It is a powerful instrument devised by man for improving his lot which entails

inculcating the right attitudes, values, norms, abilities and skills in an individual to enable

him be a functional member of the society. Succinctly, the Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN,


2004) recognizes education as “an instrument par excellence’ for effecting national

development, geared towards self-realization, better human relationship, individual and

national efficiency, effective citizenship, national consciousness, national unity, as well as

towards social, cultural, economic political, scientific and technological progress.

Principles of education and school organization are rooted on the concepts of

Education given by prominent educationists: Education is something which makes man selfreliant

and selfless, is for liberation, for the realization of self, training of country and love of

the nation, one gets from nature, the manifestation of the divine perfection, already existing

in man and the widest road leading to the solution of all problems (Akinpelu, 2011). From

the view of Western philosophers like Socrates, Rousseau & Froebel “Education include:

the bringing out of the ideas of universal validity which are latent in the mind of every man,

developing in the body and soul of the pupil all the beauty and perfection which he is

capable of before he can speak or understand. It is the process through which a child makes

the internal- external, an unfoldment of what is already enfolded” Education involves the

process of providing information from teacher to pupil to help him/her develop physically,

mentally, socially, emotionally, spiritually, and economically from childhood (Reynoids,

2008). Education in the second half of the twentieth century has been characterized by

increases in the provision of educational programs for preschool-age children.

Concept of Early Childhood Education (ECE)

A child is a young human between birth and puberty, a period recognized as

childhood stages According to Melton, G. (2005)., a child is anybody who is 12 years or

below. But this has been modified a little recently. Thus, a child in Nigeria is now considered

to be anybody below the age of 18years. Baker (2002) observed that children gain variety of

experiences in the course of physical, intellectual, social and emotional growth and

developmental changes. He pointed out that “human life proceeds by stages that are


influenced by variety of factors such as heredity; family; biological; economic and political

institution and critical life issues”. Barnett (2006) classified childhood stages to include:

neonates (ages 0–1 month); infant (ages 1 month – 1 year); toddler (ages 1–3 years);

preschooler (ages 4–6 years); school-aged child (ages 6–13 years). According to National

Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC, 2008), the early childhood period

is generally referred to as the period from birth till about the age of five or six. In other

words, it is the period before the official primary school age in Nigeria. Maduewesi (2005)

cited in Ibiam (2011) emphasized that support and care received by a child in terms of good

health, nutrition, psychological care and protection are crucial in the formation and

development of intelligence, personality and social behaviour.

The knowledge of the childhood developmental stages is of immense value to the

planning of any childhood programme. Depemu (2004) refers child development as 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. These developmental changes may be strongly influenced by genetic factors and

events during prenatal life. Human beings have a keen sense to adapt to their surroundings,

and this is what child development encompasses (Onibokun, 2007).The optimal development

of children is considered by Karoly (2010) as vital to society and so it is important to

understand the social, cognitive, emotional, and educational development of children.

Increased research and interest in this concept has resulted in innovations with specific regard

to practice that promotes early learning within the school system.

The concept of Early Childhood education has been with mankind from the onset of

human existence. It is the foundation upon which the success or failure of other levels of

education depends. This is predicated on many studies of children which revealed the

importance of early years in physical, social, emotional and intellectual development (Ugwu,


2011). Patterson (2009) opinionated; being the first formal education children receive under

the auspices of the teacher, the rest of the education system is built upon the ECE, any

defect at this stage could go a long way in affecting the later intellectual ability of the child.

On the contrary, any stimulation at this ‘critical’ period will greatly influence the child’s

success in life. Besides, the quality of inputs into primary school is determined at this stage.

Children, at this level, have wonderful impressionable minds and these minds need to

be well nurtured and developed from this early stage for future adjustment. Neuman (2003)

emphasised that children have a number of survival needs to contend with in their new

environment (School), such as protection from extreme cold or heat which require good

building and other facilities. They need sound nutrition (balanced diet) to enable them to be

healthy and resist diseases. Therefore, Mitchel et al, (2005) noted there is the need for

enriched stimulating environment. Regrettably, most of the proprietors, teachers, care-givers

of ECE centres are practically ignorant of child developmental stages and needs (Odukoya,


Early childhood education programme is generally divided into three age categories.

The first age category Day care /Crèche, which includes infants and toddlers who are

between the ages of birth and 3 years of age. According to Bredekamp (2997) the most

important factor for young infants is security with primary caregivers. Between the ages of 9

to 18 months, mobile infants are mostly concerned with exploration and between 18 and 36

months, the central focus of development is identity, and children become more independent.

The second age category of ECE includes Nursery who are 3 to 5 years of age. According to

Bredekamp, (2007) this period of development is characterized by rapid gross motor

development (e.g., jumping, hopping, skipping), refined movement of small muscles for

object manipulation, major increases in vocabulary and use of language, abstract

representation of mental constructs, and the development of relationships with other young


children. The final category of is the Kindergarten which includes those children in the age

range between 5 and 6 years of age. Bredekamp describe this level as a stage of Gross and

fine motor development characterized by children’s ability to perform controlled movements

and sequence motor skills. Greater reasoning, problem solving, and assimilation also

characterize children’s cognitive development at this stage. Kolawole (2009) observed that;

during the kindergarten years, children’s vocabulary increases at a rapid pace. In addition,

their written communication skills develop. Socially, the children begin to understand others’

perspectives, are concerned with fairness, and monitor their own behavior.

Benefits of Early Childhood Education

The benefits of the early childhood education can never be over emphasised. Meyers

(2006) described it as “a catalyst for all other schooling investments”. It is now a popular

thing throughout the modern world to send children to early schools because it has been

recognized all over the world as good place for the children before they start primary

education. So, Neuman, (2000) view the ECE as a must for all children based on the

following reasons:

In modern societies, married women are no longer full time housewives whose main

duty is to take care of the family because they are taking up paid employment, the African

extended family system whereby there are always people at home to look after the children is

gradually giving way. Moreover, house helps where available are now very expensive.

Therefore, in order to ensure safety and adequate care of the children while their parents are

at work, the nursery school is necessary (Reynoids, 2008). ECE provides children with very

good environment for socialization. There is no home, however wealthy that can provide the

type of environment which ECE schools provide for proper education of children. Therefore,

since children need a good environment for their proper social and emotional development, it

has become necessary for parents to keep their children in the ECE centres (Onibokun,2007).


For a child to realise his potentials depends on the type of stimulation and

encouragement he/she receives from home. However, Akinbote (2001),stated: as a result of

the socio-economic problems in Nigeria for example, many parents can no longer provide

their children the necessary stimulation which they need for their all round development.

Therefore, in order to prevent anything that will reduce or prevent the child’s rate of

maturation and high level of achievement, the ECE school is necessary for the child. In this

school the, child will receive the necessary opportunities which are not available at home

(Reynoids, 2001).

There are also some children with some problems which the parents may not actually

notice or identify. The problems could be physical such as bad sight or hearing problems. It

could also be emotional problems such as fear, restlessness, etc. The various experts in the

early schools could help to detect such problem early and advice the parents on how to

correct them. For proper social, emotional, physical and cognitive development of children,

the early school is a must for all children in modern societies.

The main function of ECE is to supplement the normal services which the home

render to children .This stage is the beginning of the link between the child and the social

world at large. Therefore, ECE centres should reflect the life at home while preparing the

child for life outside his home, (Sternberg, 2002). According to Bruce, (2002), the ECE is

the most important period in the development of an individual because ‘it comes first’ and

inevitably influences all subsequent developments. So “for structuring and providing positive

learning experiences fundamental for sound human growth, it serves and continue to serve

varied purposes such as Cognitive Development. The first of man’s great achievement is

learning to use his senses. This intellectual development is provided at ECE level through a

stimulating environment which enriches the child’s cognitive abilities and skills. According

to Bredekamp as the children happily play in the ECE centres, they are gradually introduced


to skills of formal education through listening, speaking, reading and writing. In this

technology age, they develop creative minds for scientific skills. So, toys and other learning

accessories are necessary.

Through early interaction with peers, children develop their language skills faster and

they feel secured and happy. Clifford, (2008) stated that ECE bring children from different

families together; they learn to live together like brothers and sisters. Consequently, the

children learn the value of unity, respect for other people’s rights, law-abiding, reducing

tribal and ethnic prejudices. So, Socialisation, acquisition of Physical and language

development through purposefully organised ECE environment is made simple at this level

of education,. Patterson, (2009) affirmed that; children to find expression in various ways to

their urges and drives. They do things and perform various physical activities more actively

than they could have done at home. They grow to retain good shape, maintain good health

and necessary physical agility needed in adulthood.

Morals and norms of the society is being inculcated in the children through ECE

programme for upward peace and harmonious living. Aries (2000) ensued: moral education

must start from the earliest stage of human life not at adult age when anti-social and antimoral

behaviours must have been formed, and breaking them would be difficult. Invariably,

ECE helps children develop good social, moral and emotional habits. Through the knowledge

of hygiene and health education children develop good health habits as they learn how to

wash their hands after playing, eating, toileting, brush their teeth, bathing and maintaining

their belongings.

From the foregoing, it is clear that ECE is a level of education that no child should

miss. Supportively, Aries, (2000) stressed on the need for policy guided curriculum, qualified

personnel, adequate quality facilities and suitable school environment for ECE activities.


Background of Early Childhood Education (ECE).

From the origin of Mankind, man has long realised the need to transmit knowledge,

skills and culture to the younger generation. As soon as the child is born, he is taught to

conform to the cultural norms of his/her society. So in every society, even the most primitive

one pays attention to the proper training of her young ones. So, the practice of early

childhood education did not begin today. A comparative history of various political, cultural

and economic events that marked world history and which has heavily influenced the

adoption of various approaches to early childhood education is important for appreciation and

assessment of its implementation in the present time (Akinbote, 2001). The review dates back

to old Greece, Rome, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, Enlightenment periods, traditional

African and in contemporary time.

Early childhood Education in Sparta

Generally, education and schooling can be traced to about 500 BC in old Greece.

Greece as the pioneer of civilization had many city states. But prominent amongst these were

Athens and Sparta. According to Akinbote (2001), history reveals that early training of the

Spartan Child was not only done at home with the mother of the child as teacher, but infant

education was a state concern. At infancy, elders examined the child carefully to see if his

physical and psychological posture would suit the aim of this predominantly militaristic state.

Where the child was found physically weak, he was immediately got rid of either through

exposure or given over to the healots . Every detail of the Spartan child’s life was directly

controlled by the state. The implication is that among the Spartans, only healthy children

were raised to become citizens (Akinbote, 2001).

With the emergence of Philosophers like Plato, Aristotle and Comenius, cognisance

was given to the need for early childhood education from birth till about age seven. This

period, in their view, should actually be devoted as the “proper” elementary schooling. Plato


and Aristotle recommended that the nursery schools for children should be between the ages

of three to seven years (3-7 yrs). For them, nursery education was intended to help the child

appreciate the world through his intellect and to develop his muscles through games (Charles,

2007). Play method was prescribed quite adequate in teaching the child at this stage. The

child’s mind is quite impressionable at birth and the influence of instruction can bring out the

best in the child. Education is regarded as the powerful tool for achieving one’s potentials,

which needs to be tapped early enough (Patterson, 2009).

Early childhood Education in Roman Empire

Before conquering Greece, the Romans never had a set standard on formal schooling

for the young child; education for the child was mostly a home affair. Their idea of preschool

education was learning the father’s trade, while the mother on the other hand took care of the

child’s moral training. The influence of Greek education brought about a new experience in

the Roman idea of education. This new Greco-Roman educational system introduced the

Ludus or elementary education amongst other stages of learning. The Ludus was the first

stage of learning. Specifically the Ludus preschool curriculum content had reading, writing

and Arithmetic using the play method (Awoniyi, 2009). Quintilian was an education theorist

who is much concerned for the child, and parental responsibility towards his normal and

effective growth. He insisted that the child as a learner need the right type of education. He

advocated early childhood education contrary to the Roman entry school age of seven years.

He is of the opinion that the elements of learning solely depends on memory, (Charlse, 2007).

Early Childhood Education in the Renaissance period.

In the middle ages there was no much attention to ECE, only the proposal of Pierre

Dubois for Head start education was quite useful. The Renaissance period witnessed the birth

of new ideas and knowledge of ancient Greek learning. Some notable scholars such as

Desdirus Erasmus (1446 – 1536) and Juan Luis Vives (1495 – 1553) contributed immensely


to the educational world view. All of them worked on a theory of early childhood education.

Along the line, Quintilian and Erasmus recommended that education should begin with the

first stage or pre-school stage because at this early stage, the child’s mind can easily acquire

the seeds of piety which will make him accustomed to the rudiments of good behaviour. They

also suggested that at this young age, subjects would be better learnt through games and

stories (Wallace, 2007).

Early Childhood Education in the Enlightenment Period

The Enlightenment Period came after the Renaissance. Generally, it witnessed a reshaping

and re-directing of society with education as the instrument to achieve it. It marked

an age when great thinkers through rational arguments made men see reason to change and

improve on human behaviour and attitude. Baker (2005), described the Enlightenment period

as “a movement borne out of destruction and revolution, but later grew to become an age of

great constructive ideals that is why the Period is also called the ‘Age of Reason”. It was also

in the light of this reasoning that great early childhood educators made valuable contributions

to the theory and practice of early childhood education.

The concept of Early Childhood Education in Africa.

In traditional African society, education was quite functional and aimed at training the

child to acquire knowledge and skills and imbibe the customs and norms of the people. The

African child is born into a family or society where he looks up to his ancestors and elders for

support. Thus, the traditional family with their communal living provided an anchorage for

the younger ones at a very early age; once the child was weaned, he was taught to accept

some moral responsibilities (Abolade, 2005). The African child in the traditional setting just

like the kindergarten school child in modern society was taught in the most practical way. He

was made to learn from older people, especially from his mother. He learnt through imitation,


recitation and demonstration in line with the view of social learning theorists (Abolade,


Early Childhood Education (ECE) in Nigeria:

The concept of ECE sprang from need to educate the child from birth. No matter how

informal, this concept dates back to pre-colonial era in Nigeria. In effect, pre-school

education had always existed in Nigeria even before the advent of western civilization and

formal education practice. Anderson, (2009) noted, the method of instruction like in the

traditional system of education consisted of role-playing, discovery, observation and

imitation, storytelling, learning by doing and so on.

Succinctly, before the coming of Western education, Nigerians had their own

educational practices and systems aimed at bringing up young ones in the way of life of the

people. The educational system was such that the children acquired skills, knowledge,

patterns of thought and attitudes which the communities recommended for effective living

(Anderson, 2009). Early childhood training includes toilet, health and meal habits. The child

was also taught respect for elders and simple gestures while exchanging greetings. The child

learns hospitality through friendliness and the need to accommodate people. Specifically the

mother plays the role of a teacher in the intellectual, social and emotional development of the

child. In 1842, Reverend Thomas Freeman, a Methodist Missionary established what he

termed the nursery of the Infant Church at Badagry. Lassa (2006) noted contrary to what the

term implied, it was not a nursery school, but more of a primary stage of learning with the

sole aim of propagating the Christian faith. Maturity for this first stage of learning was

attained once the child’s hand could go over his head to touch the opposite ear. In essence, he

remarked that there was actually no organised institution for pre-school education at this

period until between 1955 –1958; the whole idea of Universal Primary Education (U.P.E)

scheme evolved in the then Western and Eastern regions of Nigeria. Significantly too, pre29

school and child care centres were mostly in the hands of private proprietors (Onibokun,


This non-interference of government in pre-primary education continued until the

1969 Curriculum Conference. At the end of the conference, the committee recommended a

Head – Start programme for toddlers and children. The nursery and kindergarten schools

were to accommodate children between the ages of three and five years (Ogunyemi, 2009).

Later in the 1970s, there was the call for government to make more definite policies on the

preparatory role of pre-school institutions. In response to this, the Federal Government, in her

first major National Policy on Education in 1981, had a full section on pre-primary education.

In that section, pre-primary education was referred to as, “the education given in an

educational institution to children aged three to five years”.

Concept of National Policy on Education

The concept of Policy on education refers to a course of action (or a written

document) whereby the government determine decisions, actions on education matters that

will prove advantageous to the society in general (Depemu, 2004). Haddad (2004) described

Policy as programme of action adopted by a person, group, or government as a principle in

which there activities are based. In this context, policy is a course of action adopted by

government, business, and an organisation to base her programme of activities. The existing

policy on early childhood education highlights the objectives of early childhood education in

Nigeria as follows:

  • Effecting a smooth transition from the home to the school.
  • Preparing the child for the primary level of education.
  • Providing adequate care and supervision for the children while their parents are at


  • Creating individuals who are responsible citizens.


  • 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 and

so on.

  • Teaching cooperation and team spirit.
  • Teaching the rudiments of numbers, letters, colours, shapes forms, etc., through play.
  • Teaching of good habits, especially good health habits.

The government authoritatively declared that achievement of the stated objectives of

early childhood education in Nigeria will be brought about via the following means:

  • establishing pre-primary sections in existing public schools and encouraging both

community and private efforts in the provision of early childhood education;

  • making provision in teacher education programmes for specialisation in early

childhood education;

  • ensuring that the medium of instruction will principally be the mother tongue or the

language of the immediate community; and to this end: (i) developing the orthography

for many more Nigerian languages; and (ii) producing textbooks in Nigerian


  • ensuring that the main method of teaching in the childhood education centres will be

through play, and that the curriculum of teacher education is appropriately oriented to

achieve this;

  • regulating and controlling the operation of early childhood education – to this end, the

teacher pupil ratio is set at 1:25;

  • setting and monitoring a minimum standard for early childcare centres in the country;
  • ensuring full participation of government, communities and teachers’ associations in

the running, and

  • maintenance of early childhood education facilities (FRN,2004).


The contents of the policy are detailed and planned because it is the stated goal of the

Nigerian government that its education system should be comparable to all others in the

world. The coverage of educational planning includes:

Finance: Educational planning is interested in the judicious use of funds allocated to

education. It plans for revenue, handles costing and budgeting in education.

Personnel: The adequacy in quantity and quality, training, the specialization, the trend in

growth overtime, constitutes the part of education planning coverage.

Physical Resources: The provision in quantity and quality of facilities, their utilization, their

distribution and the general plant planning is within the ambit of educational planning.

Programmes and Services: The organization, the patterns of activities and development


Aims and Objectives: The formulation, the expectations and aspirations, the expected

outputs are parts of educational planning interests.

In addition to these measures, appropriate levels of Government (State and Local) are

required to establish and enforce educational laws that will ensure that established preprimary

schools are well-run, pre-primary teachers well qualified, and other appropriate

academic infrastructure provided. Ministries of education are expected to ensure maintenance

of high standards.

NPE in Cross River State

Improving early childhood education (ECE) is a priority topic in the Cross River state

strategic framework for education and training beyond 2020. This was prompted by zeal to

move the state out of doldrums of educational disadvantaged zone in Nigeria. In consensus

with the current National policy on Education (NPE) a guide for effective ECE was

formulated to prospective proprietors (CRSESA ,2011). Propelled by the adage which

states that: “The highest reward for a man’s toil is not what he gets from it, but what he


becomes by it”. the government embarked on a systematic, planned and sustainable

enhancement of the education sector through the development of functional infrastructure and

equipment for the acquisition of the requisite knowledge by all her citizens for their selfactualisation,

Edwards (2010). There is need to develop a blueprint or road map on the

strategies to be employed by all administrations as a key towards a sustained development

of the education sector (Betiang, 2011). Thus, the state educational Vision, Philosophy and

Goals outlined to include:

To be a leading Nigerian State with prosperous, healthy and well educated citizens;

living in harmony with people and nature and pursuing legitimate interest in freedom

moderated by Good Governance. Also to provide through access to qualitative education;

wealth via skill acquisition, empowerment, security, generation of skilled manpower in

science and technology for socio-economic development. So the State Ministry of Education

outlined the following objectives:

  • To increase the number of school age population having access to Qualitative

Education from 54% to 100% and qualified secondary school leavers from 33% to

70% by 2012

  • . To increase the level of skilled manpower from 30% to 70% by 2012
  • To increase the literacy level in the state from 77.5% to 95% by 2012

The Cross River State Philosophy of Education is in tandem with the National Policy

on Education which is the guideline for effective management and implementation of

education at all tiers of government. The Cross River State policy guideline on ECE Policy is

a statement of intentions, expectations, goals, prescriptions, standards and requirements for

quality service delivery. The Goals of Education in Cross River State shall be to:

  • provide and sustain unfettered access and equity to education for the total

development of the individual


  • ensure and promote qualitative and functional education delivery at all levels so as to

imbue the citizenry with marketable skills

  • promote job creation for self reliance and poverty reduction
  • ensure periodic review, effectiveness and relevance of the curriculum at all levels to

meet the needs of society and the world of work

  • Promote Information and Communication Technology (I CT) capability at all levels
  • Inculcate the right type of values and attitudes for the survival of the individual in

Cross River State and the larger society

  • Create an educational system conscious of globalized, competitive and knowledge

driven economy

  • Afford every citizen the right to education irrespective of his or her health status.

Strategies for Implementation of the Policy

  • The Cross River State Government shall strengthen the existing Early Childhood

Education (ECE) programme in all the Local Government Areas of the State.

However, government shall continue to encourage private participation of individuals

and corporate organizations in the education of the child at this level.

  • The State Ministry of Education shall maintain a highly skilled manpower team to

monitor the establishment and running of all schools concerned with Early Childhood

Education (ECE) in the State.

  • High standards shall be maintained in schools responsible for education at this level,

since Early Childhood Education (ECE) forms the foundation on which other levels of

education are built;

  • All schools designated for Early Childhood Education (ECE) in Cross River State

shall obtain approval from the Ministry of Education before commencement;


  • Any school found to operate below the stipulated minimum standards shall be denied

admission of new pupils for two years, failing which such a school, shall have its

approval withdrawn by the Ministry of Education.

  • The Proprietors/Head Teachers of any school at this level shall be properly

certificated educationists from recognized tertiary institutions.

  • All teachers/care givers employed to teach at this level must have at least the Nigeria

Certificate in Education (NCE);

  • Frequent seminars, workshops, conferences and in-service training shall be organized

periodically for teachers by proprietors of Early Childhood Education (ECE) under

the supervision of the Ministry of Education, (CRSEA, 2011).

From the foregoing, it is clear that although early childhood education began as a

private sector enterprise in Nigeria, government’s participation and ownership particularly at

state and local government levels is expanding, courtesy of the UBE Act (2004) which makes

ECE an integral part of the UBE Programme. States that are implementing the UBE

Programme are expected to integrate ECE in their public schools. Such centres are non-fee

paying and are supported with materials and facilities, thereby making pre-schools affordable

and open to more children. Recent school census data disseminated by FGN/UBEC (2003)

showed increase in participation in early years’ programme with more than 1.4 million young

children enrolled nationwide in 2003. All these are evidenced by the strategies for policy


Similarly, UNCEF’s intervention and support in local government areas has increased

access to ECE especially to remote communities, which now have at least an ECE facility,

home/centre based to cater for their young children. However, Betiang (2011) reported that a

large proportion of Nigeria’s children still lack access to or participate in early years

development programmes in the country. A Minimum Standard Package has been developed


and approved to ensure quality of service delivery both at the home-, community-, or schoolbased

centres. However, it is still unclear how this package is being used. Some attempt

should be being made at capacity building of the various operators, teachers and caregivers

on the use and application of the revised ECE curriculum and the Minimum Standard

Package (UNESCO, 2008). To ensure a systemic integration of ECE into teacher training

curriculum and assure production of quality manpower to implement the curriculum,

agreement has been reached with the National Commission of Colleges of Education on

mainstreaming ECE as a course in teacher training (Edwards, 2010).

Concept of Policy Implementation

Formulating a policy or designing a plan is meaningless except it is implemented.

Jones (2004) view ‘Implementation’ as the transformation of policy into action which is a

critical stage in the policy planning process because it links the policy plans to their actual

performance. Scholarly, education policy implementation has been defined in various ways:

According to Mkpa (2007), implementation of educational policy is “The task of translating

the policy into the operating tool by the combined efforts of the students, teachers and others

concerned”. Policy implementation refers to putting the policy into work for the achievement

of the goals for which the policy is designed, for implementation translates the objectives of a

policy from paper to practice, proposal into action” (Nwonga, 2003). Educational policy

implementation entails putting all that have been planned as a policy document into practice

in the classroom through the combined effort of the teachers, learners, school administrators,

parents as well as interaction with physical facilities, instructional materials and social

environment, (Onyeachu, 2008). Policy implementation in education in the course of the

study, entails interaction between stakeholders geared towards achieving the objectives of



The success of the implementation of any new policy or plan, especially in a country

like Nigerian, depends largely on careful planning. Ugwu (2011) sees policy implementation

as the process of converting the financial, material, technical and human in-put viz goals and

services. Similarly, Afemikhe (2005) defines policy implementation as a stage of policy

making between the establishment of a policy and the consequences of the policy for the

people whom it affects; a phenomenon that involves a wide variety of the actions such as

issuing and enforcing directories, distributing of funds, and hiring personnel among others

(Odukoya, 2010). Policy implementation, therefore, is the stage that the strategies required to

translate the laudable government policies, programme plans into reality so as to realize

expected goals.

Once the government has legitimized public policy, the stipulations of that policy must

be put into action, administered, and enforced to bring about the desired change sought by the

policy-makers. Various government agencies and departments responsible for the respective

area of policy are formally made responsible for implementation. Policy implementation is

what happens after a bill becomes law (Ogunsaju, 2007). Therefore, the following must be

taken into consideration: staffing, directing and controlling. The actions involve the tasks to

be performed, responsibilities of personnel and methods of accomplishing activities.

Implementing personnel should be persons that are technically sound, skillful and

knowledgeable, to avoid trial and error. The policy makers cannot perform effectively

without regular assessment of the extent of the application of stipulated guidelines of action

for successful policy implementation (Igboabuchi, 2008).

Policy implementation strategies.

Appropriate strategies will go a long way to achieve successful programme

implementation. The choice of faulty strategy during policy implementation may spell doom

for such policy and the implementer. A beautifully contrived/conceived plan that cannot be


implemented is a failure. Assessing implementation of any educational policy deal much on

the managerial ability of the principal characters involved in the programme. The managers

influence planning, organisation, functions, leading and controlling that leads to effective

implementation of the planned programme (Onibokun, 2007). The key areas, according to

Ogunyemi (2009), include: teacher factor -qualification, recruitment and motivation, nonteaching

staff, teacher- pupils ratio syndrome, issue of minimum standard, curriculum

content, the use of mother tongue as a medium of instruction in Early Childhood Education,

funding of Early Childhood Education Programme in Nigeria, and supervision of Early

Childhood Education programme in Nigeria.

Teacher factor.

In paragraphs 23 to 27 of the UBE implementation guidelines, it is clearly stated that

‘no educational system can rise above the level of its teachers’, identifying the fact that

laudable educational initiatives have collapsed previously simply because the ‘teacher factor’

was not taken seriously. According to Ajayi (2008), this is the reason for the government’s

pronouncement that to ensure the success of UBE, teachers’ issues would be taken into

consideration, especially in the area of raising the level of teachers’ general education.

Currently the students participating in the National Teachers Institute (NTI) programmes

(Grade II as well as NCE) and the teeming population of students in most Nigerian colleges

of education studying primary education studies (PES) are not trained for early childhood

education contexts. Ajayi insisted that the training these students receive makes them

adequate for primary schooling only. The fact that the students are exposed to some child

psychology courses is far from being sufficient to regard them as early childhood educators.

Looking at the numerous universities in the country, it is apparent that only a very few

institutions run early childhood education as a discipline at an undergraduate level or a

postgraduate level, or on a part-time basis. The only identified ones are: University of Nigeria


Nsukka, University of Ibadan, University of Lagos, University of Ado-Ekiti, Adekunle

Ajasin University Akungba, Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijebu-Ode, University of

Uyo, Abakaliki, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. Students’ enrolment for early

childhood education courses in some Nigerian higher institutions for the past three sessions

ranges from ten (10) to thirty (30) students per year ((Organisation for Economic Cooperation

and Development ( OECD, 2004). Obemeata, (2005) opined that this is indicates

that the few institutions that run early childhood course have a relatively low number of

students enrolled and so the implications are:

  • Though many teachers are said to be produced through the NTI programmes (Grade

II and NCE), regular NCE, and even Pivotal Teacher Training Programmes (PTTP),

which are mainly organized for the take-off of the UBE scheme, there are no

qualified teachers on the ground to work in the early childhood education centres in

schools. So far this has occurred in both the public and private sectors.

  • The percentage of institutions offering the course and the number of students taking

up the course cannot satisfy the demand from the teeming population of over 12.73

million preschoolers in Nigeria (Awoniyi, 2006). Therefore, for the remediation of

the problem at hand, it is advisable that the available Grade II and NCE teachers be

given on-the-job training on a regular basis to keep them current in the current

educational programme that will adequately benefit these preschoolers.

Teacher/pupil ratio syndrome.

The teacher/pupil ratio of 1:25 with a helper/an assistant stated in the National Policy

on Education (FGN, 2004) for the Early childhood class is likely to be a problem in the sense

that the developmental characteristics and the needs of the preschoolers have not been

considered. The children at this level are so restless, extremely active and full of energy to

expend (Nwagbara, 2003). They are still dependent on adults for almost all their basic needs


– physical, intellectual, language, emotional and social skills, and therefore they require their

full attention and diverse activities to help to satisfy their basic needs. Centre for Early

Childhood Development and Education (CECDE, 2002) condemned a similar practice in

Ireland and stated that such a practice is unfavourable to child initiatives or to individual

attention being given to the children (even on the part of the teacher, it would be frustrating

and extremely difficult to achieve any worthwhile work). Mahon (2008) then suggested a

ratio of 1:4 for age zero=three (o-3) and a ratio one- eight (1:8) for ages four to six as

providing opportunities for adequate individual attention to every child in the class and,

hence, aiding optimal development of the children. If the ratio is not feasible in Nigeria it

would probably be the result of a shortage of manpower. The highest ratio for this level ought

not to exceed 1:15 with one assistant, or 1:25 with two assistants.

Issue of minimum standard.

Item no. 5, a statement in the National Policy action plans, stipulates that the

government will set minimum standard for early child care centres in the country, which

means that there will be a benchmark for all to follow in the operation of these educational

centres in the nation. According to Obanya, (2005), this is a welcome idea, in that it will be

a way to curb the nonchalant attitudes of many school proprietors who are much more

interested in the monetary gains from the early childhood education business rather than in

the provision of high-quality education for Nigerian children. He refers to them as a tripartite

model of quality dimension, they will be the yardstick to measure whether the service

provided is either adequate or below standard.

To set a standard for any educational programme, it is important to consider what

these standards look like. They are the universally accepted variables to determine quality

(World Education Forum, 2000). Reflection upon standards involves considering input such

as the building and other physical facilities provided in early childhood education centres;


process factors have to do with curriculum process, implementation and reform, while output

refers to the development status and learning of children (Aladejana and Adelodun, 2003).

The inherent variables can be expanded as follows: inputs incorporate responsive policy,

responsive curriculum, the teacher factor,, teaching-learning materials, infrastructure,

pedagogical space and funds; processes. He also includes school-level management, effective

teacher–learner interaction, professional teacher support, monitoring and evaluation, and

emphasis on learner’s success not only the mastery of subject matter.

In terms of outcomes, Osanyin (2005) identified people who have learnt how to learn

(which might mean being well educated), socially responsive citizens (that is, being

beneficial to their society), and a self-regenerating educational system. It is evident that these

issues have been identified and recognised by the government, and they are incorporated into

the policy. However, it would be pertinent to say right away that this issue of minimum

standard should not just be on paper, but rather that action should be set in motion to

determine what the level of expectation is for the standard at the three levels identified. Also,

experts in the field of early year’s education and other related fields should be vested with the

responsibility of setting the standard and monitoring the compliance both in the government

and in privately owned centres.

Curriculum and programme development.

The curriculum, described as the practical aspect of education, is another important

factor in the implementation of early childhood education programme. Ugwuanyi (2008)

observed that education is made real through the instrumentality of the curriculum, because

for education to be meaningful, it must reflect the culture of the place where it operates. This

means that the curriculum must reflect the way of life of the people that makes use of it.

The selection of instructional materials is the first of the five media utilization

principles; other forms include: readiness, control and action. According to Meyers (2006),


the teacher and school administrators should be knowledgeable in the content and objectives

of the instruction and age of the learner. In view of curriculum development, Bredekamp

(2007) posits that the early childhood education programme should take into consideration

the following:

  • Maintenance and improvement of the mental and physical health
  • Extending and deepening the understanding of his social world
  • Developing his competence in the skills of skills of communication.

Open the window of life for him through music, drawing, arts drama, rhymes and so on.

Building and accommodation.

Building accommodation includes all available spaces in the classrooms, laboratories,

libraries, offices, convenience and so on. Assessing the various aspects of the building that

shelter the early childhood centre is necessary to ensure conformity to FGN recommended

standard. The school accommodation for the early schooling should be adequate for the

children, because they need space where they can play. The floor should be smooth enough

as not to pose danger to the children. There should be a multi-purpose hall for engaging the

children in drama and other in-door games ( Eresimadu, 2008).

Provision of facilities and equipment.

Facilities are plants, equipment, buildings, furniture such as table, chairs which

enables workers to perform their work effectively. To Ehiametalor (2006), facilities are

“those factors which enable production workers to achieve the goals of an organization.”

Supportively, Nwagbara (2003) noted that the use of instructional facilities enhances learning

experiences and leads to interaction within the learning environment. The issue at stake is to

what extent are these facilities being provided for effective implementation of Early

Childhood Education programme? Facilities are not provided adequately. What is found in

most secondary schools in Nigeria are dilapidated buildings, leaking roofs, lack of chairs and


tables for students and teachers use. Afolayan, (2010) remarked; These affect pupils’

performance especially in the public sector of primary education levels.

The use of mother tongue as a medium of instruction.

In the National Policy of Education, it has been stipulated that even at Early

Childhood Education level, the mother tongue or the language of the immediate environment

should be used as a language of instruction. Parents have not been favourably disposed to this

issue, since they seem to believe that the ability to communicate fluently in English is one of

the reasons why parents send their children to nursery schools. It has been established by

scholars that education in the mother tongue is more effective and relevant to the needs of

young children. Globally, it is posited that initial education in the mother tongue facilitates

second- or foreign-language learning (Obemeata, 2005). Invariably, the more accurate a

child’s knowledge is of his/her own language, the more efficient and adequate his/her

translation to English (as a second language) will be.

This was made apparent in the Ife Six-Year Primary Project. It showed positive

results for teaching in the mother tongue with a later effective transition to English. This

study could be used to enlighten parents on the impact of mother tongue on learning. One

problem associated with teaching in the mother tongue is that there are not sufficient books

for children at this level to interact with. The majority of those available are foreign-based

and expensive, making them unaffordable and not readily available to these children,

(Afolayan ,2010). The few home-based books that are available are of low quality, making

them unappealing and unattractive to read. There are virtually no reading materials for this

age range in the children’s indigenous languages (Ajayi, 2008). It then becomes a great

challenge to the government sector charged with the responsibility of book production,

scholars and educators in the area of children’s literature to wake up to their responsibility so


that the Nigerian child might have an enabling environment to interact with in these

formative years.

Funding of Early Childhood Education programme in Nigeria.

To achieve success in any public service, the issue of finance/funding cannot be

overlooked. If education is poorly funded, it will affect the staffing, pupil: teacher ratio, the

provision of infrastructure and the like, which would have a grave effect on what is likely to

the quality of the output. This is the reason many developed nations make provision for the

funding of the services for their preschoolers. The funding of this segment is given a prime

place in the nation’s budget. For instance, America estimated the cost of providing a quality

preschool education to be ‘just under $70 billion a year’, ‘based on an annual cost-per-child

of around $8700’. This estimation covers ‘the full costs of the programs, including facilities,

administration, and support services … so that every child could participate’ (Ajayi, 2008). In

Ireland between 2000 and 2006, the total funding made available for child care is 436.7

million Euros (US$580 million).

These nations have identified the economic and social benefits of educating

preschoolers as a way of creating more proficient learners who will later become more

productive citizens. The benefits span through the lives of the children. Awoniyi (2001)

highlighted other gains to include: reduction in the rates of special education placement;

better class retention and lower attrition rates; reduction of public expenditure on the criminal

justice system because the crime rates are reduced while children are juveniles; as well as

many more benefits. No wonder the international consensus now is that ‘no nation can be

said to be serious if she does not place the required emphasis on comprehensive childhood

care and education’.

In light of this, now that Nigeria is committed to early childhood and socialisation, it

can learn from other nations that ‘education, is the right of every child’. It requires the government to make realistic budgets for this educational sector. At the same time, there

should be a proper monitoring and coordination of the disbursement of the funds earmarked

for the sector so that every child is truly taken care of.

Supervision and monitoring of Early Childhood Education programme in Nigeria.

There is the need to point out that laudable progammes with adequate facilities will

eventually crumble if there is no supervision. According to Ayeni (2000), the issue of

supervision is vital in the process of implementing early childhood education in Nigeria if

success is to be attained. Nwagbara (2003) have identified supervision as an indispensable

management key of any organisation. It then means that supervision should of necessity be an

integral part of early childhood education programmes so that the goal(s) may be achieved.

Supervision needs to be tailored towards constructive criticism and guidance so as to develop

a sense of confidence and competence in teachers, thereby leading to improvement. In this

way, regular and appropriate supervision in early childhood care education will help in

evaluating the programme as well as in decision-making processes.

The School Community

The town or village where the school situates is the school community. This

community is very important to the school as it influences the school activities in one way or

another. According to Ogunsaju (2007), since the school belongs to the community, it

becomes the responsibility of the principal to link with the community. In this case, the

principal will act as liaison officer, bringing the school to community people. He should brief

the community from time to time about the problems as well as the progress of the school,

and should not hesitate to call on them whenever the school needs the community help. To do

this effectively, the principal’s relationship with the community must be characterized by

honesty, sincerity and integrity. Supporting this view, Adesina (2007) posited that the school

must structure its curriculum to the personal and social problems of the community in which

the school exists.

To maintain healthy relationship, the school administrator should establish, develop

and maintain satisfactory relations with the community in which his/her school is located.

This can be achieved through visits, demonstrating active interest in the community life,

making him/her self accessible to parents and members of the community (Agosiobo, 2002).

Enabling environment.

Physical indoor and outdoor environment, which provides space, high quality

resources, accessibility and stability that are designed to promote young children’s physical,

mental and emotional health and well-being is indispensable in Early Childhood Education. It

is also an emotional environment providing warmth and acknowledgement of each child as

unique. A truly enabling environment ought to support children’s learning across the six areas

of learning of the Early Years Foundation Stage, and ensure that each child is a competent

learner from birth who can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured (Onyeachu,

2008). Clearly, environment plays a key role in supporting and developing a child’s learning

and development because it: provides a child with stimulation and challenge, picks up on a

child’s interests and enables the child to explore and experiment and be comfortable to allow

for quiet, reflective and focused learning, may be in a comfortable book corner, as well as

more boisterous and physical play.

Supporting children learning across all six aspects of learning, allowing them to

practice their skills and develop new ones help them to learn about rules and how to

communicate with others; make creative and imaginative and permit them to take risks.

Ogunsaju (2006) insisted that an enabling environment provides a wide range of activities

and resources that are stimulating and encouraging participation to promote equality and

support children to develop a greater understanding of others’ needs, cultures, religions and


backgrounds. It also provides safety and emotional support to encourage independence and

help children to develop a positive attitude towards learning and development. It offer

challenge, and the opportunity to succeed and make positive contribution by children and

parents. Here their voices are listened to and acted upon, where they are consulted about

changes and developments in their setting. To access every Child’s learning outcomes matters

a lot. According to Eneasator (2006); children learn better in challenging and stimulating

environment characterised by quality physical setting of the classroom. Therefore, school

should be decorated with ornamental flowers, trees, nature corner and so on.

Going by the enunciated purposes and implemental strategies, it is apparent that

government showed great interest in the education of the young. One would think that the

government would facilitate the implementation of the programme. Regrettably, the

government just pulse at formulation of the policies. Thus, ECE became the most neglected

level of education in Nigeria. Private individuals, organisations such as church became

highest number of proprietors ((Reynoids, 2008). According Adebayo (2004), “there are quite

a number of ECE centres throughout Nigeria. Regulations governing their establishments,

operations and curricula differ from state to state”. Most of the proprietors, teachers and care

givers are neither professionals of early childhood education nor have the interest of the

children at heart. They see the school as business and therefore strive for profit. Some of the

proprietors employ qualified teachers just to lure government for approval and later they lay

these qualified teachers and employ unqualified ones to minimize cost and maximize profit (

Ogunyemi, 2009).

Early Childhood Education (ECE) is a topic of national importance. The need for

cognitive development and enhancing the quality of young children’s lives as proposed by

Plato and Piaget is also a national and international priority, expressed through research and

policy initiatives, programme development and advocacy. Thus, improving early childhood


education is a major theme globally. Efforts to develop appropriate curriculum for ECE in

Nigeria started about a decade ago. The first edition, developed in the late 1980s, emphasized

the holistic development of the child, catered for the physical development and stimulation of

the child, but was directed essentially at a classroom audience, and still left care of children in

the 0-3 year bracket. Thus, the policy was reviewed and revised in 2004 using an integrated

bottom up approach, targeting children age 0-5 years. This revised curriculum has been

approved for use by the government. The training manual is expected to promote the

integrated approach and converge all sectoral interventions – health, nutrition, water and

environmental sanitation, psycho-social care, early learning, child protection with the aim to

fulfilling the rights of all young children and creating a conducive environment for them to

survive, live, learn and reach their full potentials (Ajayi, 2008).

Concept of Assessment

There is need to define educational assessment in order to determine the extent of the

implementation of the early childhood programme. There is a great difference between

launching of a programme and successful implementation of the programme. Thus,

Assessment becomes imperative to ascertaining the extent to which the objectives has been


As a concept, assessment refers to an evaluation of a particular situation or

programme. Assessing simply refers to the process of observing, measuring the progress and

documenting work done and how it is done in a particular programme. It is a basis for a

variety of educational decisions that affect the society and is used to determine the extent to

which an instructional strategy or program is working ( Rolnick, 2003). Assessment of the

plan being executed constitutes the final stage of the educational implementation planning

process. This is a stage at which the achievement or otherwise of the plan is constantly

reviewed and devalued to determine compliance to plan specification and the degree of


success in the implementation of the overall policy objectives It is the main component of

any educational programme.

The shortcomings, inadequacies and the reasons for them are identified and analysed

at the assessment stage. This is the stage of policy feedback from the people the plan being is

meant for. The result of assessment of policy implementation serves as background or input

into the formulation of another policy plan; it could inform possible re-design of the plan. It

could also lead to partial review of plan or total reversal of policy plan (National Association

for Education of young Children [NAEYC], 2008). Assessing educational policy

implementation is very important in order to determine the quality of education being

provided for the young ones. Succinctly, the essential part of any educational programme is

the assessment of the implementation of its policy and this can be formal or informal in

nature. It helps to determine cost effectiveness, to determine whether the teaching programme

is effective in helping children to achieve the desired learning outcomes.

The concept of assessing the policy implementation of the ECE is the process of

collecting information for decision making in education about pupils, curricula and

educational programmes policy (Baird, 2008). Good quality measurements are a necessity for

better decision making but do not guarantee excellent decisions. Assessments are sine quo

non for determining goal attainment and this can be pursued by two types of control:

preventive and feedback. It can be used to enhance educational standard (Afemikhe, 2005).

Whenever there are discussions on assessment in Nigerian education, what readily come to

mind are public examinations epitomised in examinations conducted by the West African

Examinations Council (WAEC), National Business and Technical Examinations Board

(NABTEB) and the other public examination bodies.

There is usually a great demand for public examination to the extent that one loses

track of the fact that there are so school based examinations. Public examinations in Nigeria,


and indeed all English speaking African countries, developed out of the need to provide a

generally acceptable standard of education in schools (Haddad, 2004). Assessment of

ECE programs, according to Afemikhe (2005), is a process that consists of four closely

related and ongoing processes: acquiring information from parents, recording observations of

children at play and in daily routines and interactions, developing a comprehensive

assessment of each child, and applying ongoing observations and assessments in curriculum

planning and implementation. In this context, assessment can be regarded as continuous

process which diagnoses the weakness and serve as a quality control mechanism to maintain

and maximise the efficiency of a given programme.

Assessment models.

In the view of Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC, 2008)

document, “assessment encompasses the many forms of evaluation available to educational

decision makers”. In the work of Babalola (2010), on the other hand, ‘assessment is used to

refer to an educational endeavour that is narrower in scope than the more encompassing

notion of “evaluation”; it refers to a specific procedure within a broader process of evaluation.

In a discussion on ways of assessing children and the curriculum, Bahago (2010) quoted from

a conversation at a conference: “assessment strategies tell you ‘what is’. Documentation

provides proof of ‘what is and evaluation tells you ‘what is in light of what should be…’. He

stated that “assessing children at any stage gives teachers information about the effectiveness

of educational processes and procedures. There are many assessment models and whenever

appropriate models are used they yield appropriate result. There are four constructs which

constitute the scope of assessment:

Input- provide information on how to utilize resources to meet programmme goals for

instance, to list the potentials of the school such as quality and quantity of teachers,

monitoring and supervision and the like.


Context=provide rationale for justifying a particular type of programme with relation to set

objectives. This model study those things to be stressed such like enabling environmental


Process=provide feedback to project director on how the projector programme is progressing.

The main purpose of this is to monitor the various aspects of the project so that potential

problems could be identified and solved.

Product =is the final stage that provides information on the continuation or modification of

the programme based on the outcome of the project.

Purposes of Assessment

Assessment has many purposes which include:

  • the need to diagnose difficulties, to revise curricula, to compare programmes/

teaching/ processes,

  • to anticipate educational needs and the need to determine if objectives have been


  • For reasons of accountability, critiquing professional practice, valuing a programme,

improving outcomes for children and enhancing the quality of the educational


  • To connect assessment and curriculum; reflect and be consistent with the philosophy

and values that underlie the curriculum. The goals of the curriculum should determine

assessment and not vice versa.

  • Assessment is critical for a quality early childhood programme. It is an ongoing part

of the programme-planning process; without assessment, there can be no guarantee

that the programme meets its aims and objectives.

  • To involve teachers which require training and support so that competence and

confidence is built among teachers (Stufflebean, 2006).


Theoretical Framework

Practices for enhancing children’s early learning are influenced mostly by child

development theories. Theory is an orderly, integrated set of statements that describes,

explains, and predicts behaviour (Bush, 2001). Generally speaking there are four broad

theoretical perspectives that guide practice in ECE programme, behaviorism, cognitivedevelopmental

theory, socio-cultural theory, and ecological systems theory.

Behaviourism / Social Learning Theory

  1. F. Skinner (1904–1990) is most noted for his theory of behaviourism or more

specifically operant conditioning theory, which is based on the premise that children’s

behaviour can be increased based on the presentation of reinforcers and decreased through

punishment (Berk, 2000). Social learning theory, created by Albert Bandura, expands on

operant conditioning by adding the idea that imitation or observational learning increases the

chances that children will learn new behaviours. Generally speaking, behaviourists believe

that children’s development is outside of their own influence, that it is shaped by

environmental stimuli (Daniels 2003).

The following techniques are ideal for use in childhood education:

Drill: It is a teaching technique that involves steady repetition of a desired action. Drills are

most often used when teaching multiplication tables. Drills can also be used when teaching

things that require memorization such as geography and grammar.

Segmented Teaching: In this method, the teacher breaks a topic down into smaller,

comprehensive lessons. Each segment is built upon and connected together. For example,

children who are learning to read begin with identifying the sound of individual letters, then

letter blends, until they are able to read entire words.


Modelling: Modelling, simply speaking, is learning by imitation. The teacher demonstrates

behaviours, which is then repeated by the student. Modelling is commonly used when

teaching language or writing to children.

Structured classroom routine: Children must be familiar with this routine. Structure maintains

the focus of the children on the teacher.

The above theory is relevant to the study in two folds as the application will foster:

higher achievement through familiarity which create comfort zone for children; periodic

assessment with children to determine their level of understanding; immediate feedback, or

reinforcement. Also, the policy on teacher specialisation and the concept of assessment is

therefore based on this theory.

Cognitive / Constructive Theory

Jean Piaget (1896–1980) is credited with the cognitive-developmental theory. Piaget

believe that the interaction of four components which serve as propellants result to cognitive

growth. Berks (2000), stated that the components include: maturation of both nervous and

endocrine system, experience involving action on the part of the learner, social interaction

for the observation of a wide variety of behaviours an finally, the self-regulation mechanism

that responds to environmental stimulation by constantly fitting new experiences into existing

cognitive structures (assimilation) and revising these structures to fit the new data

(accommodation) refers to as schemas. According to Berk (2000), Piaget “views the child as

actively constructing knowledge which takes place in stages” including the sensorimotor

stage (birth to 2 years), preoperational stage (2 to 7 years), concrete operational stage (7 to

11), and formal operational stage (11 and beyond). For the principle goal of education in the

schools should be creating men and women who are capable of doing new things, not simply

repeating what other generations have done, ( Daniels, 2007).


The underlying concepts of cognitivism involve examining learning, memory,

problem solving skills, and intelligence. According to Berk and Winsler (2005) Cognitivists

want to understand how problem solving changes throughout childhood, how cultural

differences affect the way we view our own academic achievements, language development,

and much more. In early childhood education, we are concerned with the first two stages: the

sensorimotor and preoperational stage. At this stage, a child explores the world through his

senses: taste, touch, sight, sound, and smell and continues to develop language and thinking

skills, and typically lasts from age two until age seven. The child also becomes focused on

himself and how the world relates to him ( Evans,2006).

This theory has a lot of Classroom implications for instance: it is imperative that the

teacher not only create a setting that promotes learning, but also take time to understand each

child; children learn differently and are at various developmental levels. Teachers should be

able to manage their classrooms to incorporate diverse teaching, making learning interesting

by creating motivational learning environment that encourage children to do their best.

Children must be made to understand that the work they are performing is worthwhile. Two

factors that are critical to motivation include value and effort. Value measures the importance

of a pupils work to himself and others. Effort is the amount of time and energy the children

put into their work. Understanding the value of academic tasks and the effort needed to

complete those tasks can motivate children to perform better in the classroom environment.

Socio-Cultural theory

Piaget’s theory motivated Lev Vygotsky (1896–1934) to see a child development as

a kind of social constructivism, in which development is determined by culture. So the core

of Vygotsky’s theory is called the Socio-Cultural theory -an idea that development is the

result of the interactions between children and their social environment. According to Berk

and Winsler (2005) there are a number of tenets that are unique to social constructivism:


First, children’s culture influences the activities, language, and education to which children

are exposed, Second, while some development is innate or influenced by biology, higher

level of development is affected by culture. Finally, the theory incorporates the zone of

proximal development, that is, the range in children’s development between their ability to

perform a task independently and their ability to perform a skill with the assistance of a more

competent member of the their culture (adult or older child). (Daniels, 2003).

These interactions include those with parents and teachers, playmates and classmates, and

brothers and sisters. They also involve relationships with significant objects, such as books or

toys, and culturally specific practices that children engage in the classroom, at home, and on

the playground. Children are active partners in these interactions, constructing knowledge,

skills, and attitudes and not just mirroring the world around them.

Vygotsky opposed the psychologists who believed that children’s development occurs

spontaneously and cannot be affected by education. He also differed with those who claimed

that teaching had the power to alter development at any time regardless of the child’s age or

capacities. Instead, Vygotsky felt that learning could lead to development if it occurs within

the child’s Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). The ZPD contains skills and concepts that

are not yet fully developed but are “on the edge of emergence” emerging only if the child is

given appropriate support. For the skills and concepts that lie outside a child’s ZPD, even

significant instructional efforts may fail to produce developmental gains.

Vygotsky recognized that the kind of assistance needed to help children develop new

skills and concepts within their ZPD took different forms for children of different ages. For

instance, fostering make-believe play with preschoolers could provide the same support that

formal instruction offers for older students. “A child’s greatest achievements are possible in

play, achievements that tomorrow will become her basic level of real action.” Lev Vygotsky

has contributed a wealth of ideas to early childhood education. Most important, he has shown


us how children’s efforts to understand the world around them, working in concert with

teachers’ sensitive, responsive interactions, rouses their young minds to life The theory is

relevant to the study as it relate to play as recommended method of teaching in ECE and

mother tongue or language of environment as mode of instruction.

Self-Activity Theory

Self-activity theory emphasis that a child should to be allowed to be led by his own

interests and to freely explores them. Prior to the above approach, ‘it was believed that young

children did not have the ability to focus or to develop cognitive and emotional skills before

this age. Friedrich Froebel (1782-1852) propounded the self Activity Theory because he

believe that learning begins when consciousness erupts.

Maria Montessori (1870 – 1952) was influenced by Froebel’s educational system

which was designed to meet each child’s need for: Physical activity; the development of

sensory awareness and physical dexterity; creative expression; exploration of ideas and

concepts; the pleasure of singing; the experience of living among others; satisfaction of the

soul. Such school must feature games, play, songs, stories and crafts to stimulate imagination

and develop physical and motor skills (Trabalzini, 2010). From her observations of retarded

children, she developed the sensory approach to learning which emphasis on children’s

desire to master skills. She developed a set of materials which were self-correcting, to be

used in a sequence from simple to complex and required the minimum guidance of teachers

because children are interested in work which adult called ‘play’. Teachers should take the

role of loving, supportive parent. The classroom, symbolically must viewed as an extension

of a lovely, thriving garden, and that which he needed most as a child.

The above approach is very relevant to the study as it is in line with the policy guide

specification on provision of quality curriculum, facilities, infrastructures and materials at

ECE centres. The school is expected to adapt to the best curriculum that suitably guide the


early learners. Also, on the government ensuring educational stakeholders are guided by the

above ideology as the emphasis is on ensuring that children learn under well programmed and

prepared environment that primarily suit the educational and developmental needs of the

children as the policy guideline stipulated.

Generally, each of the theories above have bearing with the set goals of early

childhood as indicated in the National Policy on Education (2004). These goals, as already

indicated, include to:

  • effect a smooth transition from home to the school;
  • prepare the child for the primary level of education;
  • provide adequate care and supervision for the children while their parents are at work

(on the farms, in the market, offices etc);

  • inculcate social norms;
  • inculcate in the child the spirit of enquiry and creativity through the exploration of

nature, the environment art, music and playing with toys etc;

  • develop a sense of co-operation and team-spirit;
  • learn good habits, especially good health habits; and
  • teach the rudiments of numbers, letters, colours, shape, forms etc through play.

The attainment of the above objectives, according to Bayle (2005), requires specialist

teachers with in-depth knowledge of children’s psychology, and who are competent in the use

of integrated approach to science and arts teaching. It also requires teachers whose teaching

practices take into consideration the fact that children learn better in the context of wellplanned,

and play-oriented activities. According to Shumow (2003), differences in

instructional practices are based on teachers’ theoretical orientations. Teachers who support

Vygotsky’s Socio-cultural or Social constructivists theory provide child-choice, guided

discovery, and cooperative learning opportunities. They emphasize critical thinking, problem


solving, and intrinsic motivation. Social constructivists build their practices around a

community of learners, instructional conversation, and authentic tasks. They emphasize

cultural literacy, collaboration, and metacognition.

Based on the above considerations therefore, this study will be anchored on Lev

Vygotsky’s socio-cultural theory because its tenets provide a reliable framework for the

realization of the objectives of the National Policy on Early Childhood Education which the

researcher is set to assess its implementation. The choice of this theory for this study is in

line with the views of Naumann (2005) which affirmed that other child development

theories emphasized teacher centred practices while socio-cultural theory emphasized childcentered

practices, Also it stressed on government, parent and community involvement in

out-of-school activities, cultural instruction, social cognition, cultural awareness, and

adaptive social and health habits.

Empirical Studies

These are studies that are related to policy implementation issues in early childhood


Extent of Teachers’ involvement in UBE

A study on the extent of teachers’ awareness and involvement on implementation of

Universal Basic Education (UBE) was carried out by Chike ( 2008) in Enugu Urban Area.

The purpose of the study was basically to find out the extent to which teachers participate in

implementing the UBE in Enugu Urban Area. His research questions include: to what extent

are teachers qualified in terms of academic background?, what is the quality of learning in

early childhood schools?. The researcher used survey research design and collected his data

through a structured questionnaire of five point likert response type assigned numerical

values ranging from very good knowledge, good knowledge, little knowledge, very little

knowledge and no knowledge at all. Mean of 3.00 and above was used as an acceptance mean


showing good of UBE while scores below 3.00 were taken as little of UBE. The findings

showed that the extent of pre- primary school teachers’ awareness and involvement was still

very low. The study suggested strategies to improve teachers’ awareness to include: seminars

and workshops, to retrain the already serving teachers, improving teachers’ condition of

service, professionalisation of teaching with articulated code of conduct, removing all quack

teachers and recruiting qualified teachers to replace them.

Perceptions of Teachers and Teaching: A Focus on Early Childhood Education

Teacher’s perception of the school climate seem to determine their attitude in the

school and classroom generally and which also seem to affect the children’s learning and

academic performances. What does it mean to be an early childhood teacher in Essex? How

do ECE teachers, head teachers, management board members and student teachers view the

nature and role of ECE teachers? How do they construe effective ECE teachers? To what

extent are they satisfied with different components of their role? What do they perceive as the

key challenges facing them as members of ECE? Data pertaining to all these questions and

more were generated from multiple scales within the questionnaire and from interviews and

focus groups with teachers, head teachers employed by Rolinck (2003) in carrying out a

cross sectional study on Early Childhood Development in Essex, England. Job satisfaction

questionnaire scale provides evidence of those areas of early childhood teachers/head

teachers’ work that they find very satisfying and those which are determined to be less than

satisfying was used as an instrument for data collection.

As part of the interview process management board members and head teachers, were

asked what attributes they looked for when appointing teachers. It is considered that those

responsible for appointing teachers would be able to articulate the qualities of good and

effective teachers that they would be seeking. Participants were also asked what they

construed as an effective teacher. Interview transcripts were scrutinised to reveal the ways in


which good and effective teachers were described. Questionnaires provided a space where

respondents could make “any other comments that can enhance the recruitment and retention

of quality teachers”. These were transcribed verbatim and subject to content analysis. Out of

the 146 early childhood participants in the teacher and head teacher questionnaire, 33 (23%)

took the opportunity to write further comments.

The researcher analysed the data was using descriptive and inferential statistics. The

findings collectively reveal that the early childhood teachers, head teachers, management and

student teachers who participated in this study perceive that early childhood teachers are:

  • able to establish caring and respectful relationships with children, parents and


  • committed to professional development and ongoing learning;
  • generally satisfied with their role;
  • generally optimistic about government initiatives; and,
  • able to identify some tensions and challenges facing ECE.

The result showed that most children become very similar with regard to

learning ability, rate of learning and motivation for further learning when provided

with favourable condition. In contrast, when the children are provided with

unfavourable learning conditions, they become dissimilar with regard to learning

ability, rate of learning and motivation for further learning. He therefore, concluded

that one of the ways to improve the academic performance of a class is to improve the

class-learning climate. Furthermore, Glatthorn , (2004) noted; “much educational

innovations have been centred on: changing the learning environment, developing

new arrangement of time, staff provision, creating space, provision of resources and

pupil grouping. All in an attempt to improve the children performance.


Assessing Quality in ECE

Quality indicators in early childhood education in Ekiti State were evaluated as

Olaleye and Omotayo (2009) carried out study on ‘Assessing Quality in Early Childhood

Education in Ekiti-State, Nigeria. The researchers based their study on quality indicators such

as; quality of teachers and care givers, suitability of teaching materials and infrastructures and

so on. The main research questions that guided their study included: to what extent have

proprietors/proprietress of early childhood schools provided conducive environment for

teaching and learning? What is the of learning outcomes in the early childhood schools? It is

a descriptive research design of the survey type. Twelve (12) private nursery schools

randomly selected in Ado-Ekiti Local Government Area of Ekiti State. Data were collected

using a 20-item structured questionnaire administered on 120 respondents consisting of

teachers and head teachers. Data were analyzed using mean and percentages. Findings

showed that the quality of early childhood education is averagely good specifically the

learning activities were found to be fair while that of learning environment of some schools

were found to be good. The qualities of academic staff have been found to be low, parents

participation in schools’ management was also found to be low. There was the neglect of the

use of mother-tongue. Recommendations were made towards achieving high quality

childhood education in the state: need to employ qualified teachers who will work in the pre

– school centres; Working with parents and pre-schools caregivers to support children from

Birth to three; In-service training should be regularly organized teachers.; Effective control

should be exercised over the childhood Education Programmes; establishment of nursery

schools in the rural areas.


Assessment of Physical Education and programme implementation of pre-primary


In Nnewi Local Government Area in Anambra State of Nigeria, Uzoma (2004)

carried out a study on the assessment of Physical Education (PE) and programme

implementation of pre-primary school in primary schools. The study was guided by the

following research questions: how do pre – primary school head teachers assess the

implementation of PE? What is the qualification of PE teachers of the pre-primary education

programme?. The researcher adopted a cross sectional survey design which being both

descriptive and exploratory entails a once and for all observation of some of the different

stakeholders of pre-primary education. The descriptive survey research design was adopted.

Oral interview, questionnaire and a checklist for personal observation were the instrument for

data collection. Data collected was analysed using simple descriptive statistics such as means

and percentages. The findings of the study revealed that the implementation of pre-primary

education programme was generally poor due to Some militating factors including:

inadequate personnel, funds, facilities and equipment and accommodation, have proved

obstacle to effective implementation of pre-primary education. The researcher recommended

among others; an enabling law to compel parents to leave no child behind should be enforced,

to give national recognition to individual private organization and local communities who

have contributed by way of establishment or financial backing to the pre-primary education

programme and so on as practical steps that could be taken to move education forward in


Administration of Pre-Primary Schools

A study on administration of nursery schools in Four (4) out of Five (5) government

approved nursery school in Nsukka urban was carried out by Ojukwu (2003). The purpose of

the study was to survey how approved early childhood schools in Nsukka Urban were


administered. The researcher posed questions such as: What makes an individual or an

organization legible to establish nursery school?, How far are nursery schools in Nsukka

Urban conform to Enugu State set standard for nursery schools to guide the study. The four

administrators of these schools and fifteen teachers (15) were sampled and the structured

questionnaire was administered to them and data was collected and analysed. The data was

analysed with percentage and findings revealed that: the curricula of nursery schools in

Nsukka Urban do not satisfy the objectives of pre- primary education in Nigeria; the

administrators are to appreciable extent effective in the management of personnel even

though they need the service attendants; the management of pupil/teacher ratio, funds, and

equipment are ineffective. From the findings the researcher made among others the following

recommendations towards effective management of nursery schools in Nsukka Urban: the

government should regulate and control the operation of nursery schools, the government

should review and enforce established nursery educational laws ,both the government and

individuals to pay more attention to the establishment of nursery education.

Extent of policy Implementation

In Isi-Uzo Local Government Education Auhtority of Enugu state, Ugwu (2011)

carried out a study on policy implementation in Early Childhood Education and Care. The

main purpose of the study was to find out the extent of in which policy on pre-primary

education has been implemented and to identify factors that hinder the success of the preprimary

education programme. The researcher employed survey research design and sample

comprised of 96 head teachers randomly selected using simple random sampling technique

from Isi- Uzo Local Government Education Authority. A 17-item questionnaire with a

reliability index of 0.62 face validated by experts in childhood Education and measurement

and Evaluation was used for study. Mean and standard deviation were used in data analysis.

The findings revealed that apart from encouraging private efforts in the provision of


Pre-primary education, the government has failed in its responsibilities in implementing the

policy on early childhood care programme. Some factors such as lack of adequate funds,

unqualified personnel were identified as responsible for this anomaly. Among others the

researcher recommended that the government and all stakeholders’ should ensure effective

implementation of the policy by providing all that is needed for the policy to work.

School based factors influencing implementation of ECDE curriculum

There are real concerns raised by stakeholders regarding the quality of education in

Early Childhood Development and Education (ECDE) centers in Kenya. There doubts over

the conditions of learning crucial in determining quality of education. The quest to discover

education quality based conditions prompted Zadock Murundu1, Francis Indoshi and

Michael Okwara (2010) to embarked on a study on: School based factors influencing

implementation of early childhood development and education curriculum in Emuhaya

District, Kenya. Specifically the study was to explore the influence of: learning environment,

grouping practice, teacher-child ratio, medium of instruction, daily schedule, health and

nutrition on implementation of ECDE curriculum.

The study was based on descriptive survey design. 65 ECDE teachers drawn from 32

ECDE centres in Emuhaya District, Kenya selected by simple random technique were used as

sample for the study. Data were collected by questionnaires and focused group discussion

guide and was analyzed by the use of descriptive statistics, namely frequency and

percentage. Qualitative data was categorized and reported in emergent themes. The

researchers findings include: that lack of suitable teaching and learning resources,

inappropriate diet, understaffing, inappropriate medium of instruction and teacher-child ratio,

and poor grouping practices were the factors hindering effective implementation of the

curriculum in ECDE centres. The study recommends among others that a program should be


designed to build community capacities for the development and equipment of ECDE centres

in partnership with the government and other stakeholders.

Summary of Literature Review

Education has been viewed as a veritable instrument for the realization of the goals

and aspirations of any nation. The benefit of ECE was stressed. The ECE is not restricted to

Nigeria or Africa only but is a worldwide phenomenon. So, background of the ECE

programme was discussed revealing the philosophers who contributed to the practice of early

childhood learning. The functions of ECE was stressed including cognitive, social, emotional,

physical and intellectual development of the learner. Based on the above functions, the FGN

outlined its objectives and policy statement on strategies for faithful implementation of ECE

programme. Equally, the FGN authorised state governments down to Local government

through their educational authorities to plan educational strategies in conformity with

national philosophy and objectives. Therefore, ECE programme policy implementation

strategies were equally outlined.

Most importantly, the importance of assessing the extent of the execution of the

outlined policy guidelines at early childhood centres were discussed. This assessment is

based on the implementation guidelines of the Federal ministry of education for early

childhood education programme. The review of related literature attests that any planned

programme should be periodically assessed or reviewed for necessary adjustment in the

implementation strategies. Otherwise, actualization of this important programme may end up

a mirage in spite of government’s laudable implementation strategies.

However, considerable impact of the existing early childhood programmes had been

recorded. The major constrains to the successful implementation of the ECE programmes

were highlighted to include: lack of adequate fund, lack of quality and quantity personnel,

lack of enabling environment and so on. The theoretical perspective of ECE was also


discussed where some child developmental psychologists and their various contributions to

ECE in relation to the current practices in Nigeria were stressed.

Finally, empirical studies on findings and conclusions of some previous researchers

on various aspect of Pre-primary education at different times and parts of the world were

discussed. The previous researchers focused on the management, administrative, evaluation

of nursery, primary, secondary schools programme. It appears that not much work has been

done on the area of execution of the policy on early childhood Education. Thus the

researcher’s interest and desire to carry out the present study was sustained and the outcome

would facilitate the awareness on the need for children to start school early and in a very

pliable school environment. Hence, this study will contribute in improving ECE programme

in Ogoja Education Zone and beyond.