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Early Child Education : learning can be made easy through play – UNICEF

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The value of play for children’s development and learning in pre- school to help mould their social and communication skills that will groom them into adulthood cannot be overemphasized.

Given the fact that young children don’t often have an opportunity to exercise control over their lives, free play can be a liberating experience, nurturing independence and relieving stress for kids, which in turn help them through the learning process.

When it comes to early childhood education, child’s play may well be a serious business. The fact that fun and games bring more than just joy, may be the key to helping children thrive in live.

A visit to Ali Fodio Primary school , Bodinga local government area, sokoto, during a fieldwork session, organised by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) was Hajia Binta Musa, the ECE class teacher who spoke about how play has help gained and prolonged her pupil’s attention in the class.

Binta in a teaching session with her pupils, singing and dancing to a drawing of alphabet A to Z pictures with different color images to illustrate what each alphabet stands for, said the logic has been helping the pupils want to stay in school and look forward to the play-learning session everyday.

“Before the play materials came,it was difficult to get all the pupils attention and for them to grab the teaching , but with enough play items it is far easier , as they play with learning toys and play with themselves too , the play method makes them grab things faster “.

” We started the ECE class with 40 pupils between the age of 5 to 6 enrolled, but now we have 150 pupils by my register, i was trained for six months on how to play teach the ECE class “.

But amid the success story comes some challenges, which lack of teachers and infrastructures are the main obstacles amongst other barriers .

Binta who teaches her pupils both in Hausa and English language, said being the only teacher handling the ECE class is difficult to cope with the number of pupils , as there are no other class room and teacher.

In an interview with the Education Secretary, Local Government Area of Bodinga , Sokoto State, Lawali Muazu said among the 105 basic primary school in the LGA , only 27 primary school have ECE centres , because of inadequate no of classrooms and teachers.

“We enroll pupils only in 27 primary school that we have centres to keep them, we cannot enroll where can not provide shelter , as they are too small to keep them outside or under trees “.

“Children in areas where there are no class rooms and teachers, attend non -formal school between the age of zero to five , till age six, then we enroll them in school”.

He assured that there are plans to employ more teachers , as BESDA ( Better Education Service Delivery for All) program has help provide 181 BESDA volunteer teachers to help cater for the pupil across the primary school in the LGA.

Nevertheless, the Director of Early Child Care Development, SUBEB Sokoto, Farouk Umar said the state is looking towards addressing some of the challenges of early childhood education.

” There is need for orientation so that parents and community members are fully informed on the importance of education and in fact, that is why have a plan for basic education in the state”.

“In the last two weeks, we have been doing training for five days where we review the plan and we incorporated a lot of sensitization activities under the ECCDE to ensure that more awareness is created in ECCDE centres “, he said.

Also the UNICEF Education Specialist, Yetunde Oluwatosin said the first five years of a child’s life is actually a critical period, because it is a time for them to develop their social, cognitive emotional and of course physical development.

She noted that the experience a child goes through at this time has a major impact in their future .

” So now we are talking about play based learning, you find out that when a child is able to play within his or her environment, within things that are available, and within playing with their peers and also looking at adults as well, they are able to develop all these areas and as they grow in life you see that these domains in them and very well develop”.

” We have heard in the past years especially after COVID , that there is a global learning crisis and if we must be honest with ourselves, if we look back at foundational level we find out that it is the actually the root cause , if we are looking out at the not cause of this global learning crisis because children who are not in either early childhood education or pre-primary education automatically they are lacking in some skills and they are being left behind”.

*For us in Nigeria, the 2018 National Personnel Audit , that UBEC did finds out , that there are over 7 million of our children within that age range for pre primary education, so looking at the population of the age group in Nigeria , you find out that just one 1 of 3 children is attending early childhood education or organised learning, so what happens to the rest of the children? ” , She added.

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