By Bodunde Tenabe
In 2012, pre-primary education became a component of the compulsory basic education policy; making it mandatory for children aged 5 years to enroll in formal education. Although Early Child Care Development and Education (ECCDE) ensures readiness for primary education, the level of compliance with this policy directive varies among states. In furtherance of this Federal Government policy directive, National Institute for Educational Planning and Administration, Ondo organized a workshop for Caregivers of Early Child Care Development and Education Centers in Nigeria.
The workshop brought together, caregivers (Early Childhood educators) from 23 states of the federation at the corporate headquarters of NIEPA Nigeria, Ondo from Monday 27th to Friday 31st May, 2019. The workshop amongst many others aimed to help Early childhood educators plan, organize and implement programs for children between the ages of infancy and 12 years.
Welcoming the participants on behalf on NIEPA’s Director-General and Chief Executive Professor Lilian Salami, Dr. Mrs. Olatoun Akinsolu said the training programme is a combination of modular and experiential activities to help teachers and assistants lead children in activities to stimulate and develop their intellectual, physical and emotional growth and ensure their security and well-being. Dr. Akinsolu stressed that being Early Childhood Teachers, they play an important role in building a child’s success in their early years of school. She said, “if you can learn and retain the foundational skills and knowledge this training programme offers, you will be able to give the children you teach a great jump start that will in turn lead to less students being placed in Special Education in their primary years.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, NIEPA’s Training department head, Dr. Sunday Adegbesan spoke vividly on the important role Early Child Care “Teachers” play in a child’s development. According to him, “They inspire young minds, expose them to the joys of learning, and give them the foundation for lifelong success.” Speaking further, Dr. Adegbesan informed the participants that they will also be put through the process of making Educational toys or instructive toys and objects of play, generally designed for children, which are expected to stimulate learning.
Highpoint of the five-day workshop was the day-long Improvisational Toy Making session facilitated by a Chief Training and Research Fellow, Dr. Omotayo Olasupo. According to Dr. Omotayo, the best toys engage a child’s senses, spark their imaginations and encourage them to interact with others. Play is critical to the healthy growth and development of children. As children play, they learn to solve problems, to get along with others and to develop the fine and gross motor skills needed to grow and learn. The teachers where drilled in the art making toys from available everyday materials. Dr. Omotayo further said these toys can serve as instructional materials and also, stimulate “play” which is an important part of the classroom because it helps develop the child in ways that other pedagogies and strategies cannot. Toys are fun, but toys are also tools that help children learn about themselves and the world around them.