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This study was carried out to examine the role of early childhood education in the implementation of sustainable development goals using Federal Ministry of Education, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State as a study area. To achieve this objective, three research questions and a research hypothesis were formulated to guide the study. The data was collected from both primary and secondary sources. The primary data were collected with the help of a well-structured questionnaire of two sections administered to staff of Federal Ministry of Education, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. The collected data were analyzed with tables and simple percentages to analyze the research questions while Chi-square statistical tool was used to test research hypotheses. The study reveals that early childhood education plays a significant role in the implementation of sustainable development in Nigeria. The study concluded with some recommendations the federal government in conjunction with tertiary institutions, institute of education, and colleges of education should take positive steps to produce adequate numbers of teachers and specialists in early childhood education. This will help in the methodology and the teaching curriculum of early childhood education.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
In every modern society it is believed that education is the key to national development and there is a need to maintain every level of education especially the pre-primary stage, because it is the bedrock upon which all other educational levels build. Once a child misses that early stage it is usually difficult for the learner to get back to the basics. Pre-primary education is a common practice in most societies; they make provision for early childhood education programs of various types for children below the official school age (usually 6 years) mainly to prepare them for the rigors of primary education and beyond.
It should be noted that not everyone is in support of early childhood education. Robinson and Robinson (1968) hold the view that young children are not mature enough to learn complex task or skills that are required of them in the pre-school programs. They also argue that the love and warmth of a mother is more important than any educational program. On the other hand some research evidence shows that early childhood education has a positive influence in children’s affective, conceptual and social development in later years (Baker 1973; Gormley, Gayer, Phillips and Dawson 2005; Rolnick and Grunewald 2003).
Early years in life are the most important to the formation of intelligence, personality and social behaviour of a child. The year before a child reaches Kindergarten are among the most critical in his or her life to influence learning. That is why modern societies show serious concern for the education of their young ones by providing needed support to prepare them to succeed later in school (Ejieh, 2006). It is common practice in most societies to make provision for early childhood education programmes of various sorts for children below the official school-going age (usually 6years) mainly to prepare them for education in primary schools (Obidike, 2012). The Federal Government of Nigeria recognizes the importance of early childhood education in Nigeria and as a result it was given prominence in the National Policy of Education (FRN, 2004) as one of the programmes in the Nigerian educational system.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Despite the different views on early childhood education by scholars, the National Policy on Education (FRN, 2012) stipulates that it should be included in mainstream education. Formal education begins from pre-primary education as provided in day-care centers and nursery schools to children aged 3 through 5 years. It is enriched by the informal traditional upbringing given to children from 0 through 3 years which makes them ready for school. Although the government is not directly involved in the establishment of day-care centers and nursery schools, it maintains oversight for the:
1. Provision and distribution of policy guidelines for the establishment and management of pre-primary institutions;
2. Production and development of appropriate national curriculum and textbook in Nigerian languages;
3. Approval of relevant supplementary reading materials and teachers/instructions’ manual;
4. Provision and approval of appropriate certification of work done and training received.
Despite all these the National Policy appears to face some challenges in its implementation and there is need for revisiting these program provisions.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The objectives of this study include:
1. To examine the role of early childhood education in the implementation of sustainable development in Nigeria.
2. To examine the problems confronting early childhood education implementation in Nigeria.
3. To proffer solutions to the problems confronting early childhood education implementation in Nigeria.
4. To make useful recommendations based on research findings.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following research questions were stated to guide this study:
1. Does early childhood education play any role in the implementation of sustainable development in Nigeria?
2. Are there any problems confronting early childhood education implementation in Nigeria?
3. Are there any solutions to the problems confronting early childhood education implementation in Nigeria?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
H0: Early childhood education does not play any significant role in the implementation of sustainable development in Nigeria.
H1: Early childhood education plays a significant role in the implementation of sustainable development in Nigeria.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The findings would be of significance to children, parents, community, government, Ministry of Education, educators, and curriculum planners in the following ways:
i) It would enlighten children on the importance of early childhood education which would make them appreciate the value of education.
ii) It would make parents and the community to develop positive interest towards sending their children’s to school at the early age.
iii) It would encourage curriculum planners to implement appropriate curricula to suit each season of the year.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This study focuses on role in the implementation of sustainable development goals. The study covers the theoretical framework, conceptual framework as well as other areas on early childhood education in Nigeria.
1.8 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
There is no study undertaken by a researcher that is perfect. The imperfection of any research is always due to some factors negatively affecting a researcher in the course of carrying out research. Therefore, time constraint has shown no mercy to the research. The limited time has to be shared among many alternative uses, which includes reading, attending lectures and writing of this research, also distance and its attendant costs of travelling to obtain information which may enhance the writing of this study was a major limitation.
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