Com­mu­nity par­tic­i­pa­tion crit­i­cal to early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion – CSACEFA

Daily Trust - - EDUCATION - By Abubakar Haruna

What are the aims of your or­ga­ni­za­tion?

CSACEFA is a net­work of about 600 NGOs work­ing in the area of ed­u­ca­tion across the na­tion. We be­lieve that in to­day’s knowl­edge driven economies, ed­u­ca­tion is the key to suc­cess. We con­duct ad­vo­cacy on the ex­pan­sion and im­prove­ment of com­pre­hen­sive ed­u­ca­tion.

The coali­tion came into be­ing in 2002 and since then, it has been in the fore­front of driv­ing ed­u­ca­tion agenda and we have tried to build the ca­pac­ity of civil so­ci­ety or­ga­ni­za­tions across the na­tion. We were able to pro­vide the nec­es­sary sup­port re­quired by the or­ga­ni­za­tion to in­flu­ence gov­ern­ment de­ci­sions on ed­u­ca­tion.

What is your take on gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to of­fer free meals to pri­mary school pupils?

It is a good pro­gramme and I know the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment had pro­posed a sim­i­lar ini­tia­tive in 2007. There were var­i­ous suc­cesses recorded in var­i­ous states that im­ple­mented school feed­ing prog­mmes in terms of in­creased en­rol­ment but the prob­lem was that most states could not sus­tain the pro­ject and that led to its col­lapse. What I mean by that is that now we have high stu­dents en­rolling in schools but we don’t have the nec­es­sary fa­cil­i­ties to take care of these chil­dren. The gov­ern­ment should put in place mea­sures to man­age school en­rol­ment Chioma Osuji is the Pol­icy Ad­vi­sor of a non-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tion, Civil So­ci­ety Ac­tion Coali­tion on Ed­u­ca­tion For All (CSACEFA). She speaks on early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion, the pro­posed pri­mary school free feed­ing pro­gramme and Al­ma­jiri ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem in the coun­try. and fur­ther mo­ti­vate par­ents in the ru­ral ar­eas to send their wards to schools. So, the pro­gramme is good and if we put in good strate­gies to back it up, it will en­hance qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion. Another thing is that com­mu­nity par­tic­i­pa­tion in it is very im­por­tant and peo­ple must avoid politi­ciz­ing it. Com­mu­ni­ties must see it as good thing and also con­trib­ute to its suc­cess.

A lot of

peo­ple

have ex­pressed con­cern over the qual­ity and safety of the meals to be given to pupils. What mea­sures do you think both gov­ern­ment and the schools should take to im­prove the nu­tri­tional qual­ity of foods?

That is why I men­tioned com­mu­nity par­tic­i­pa­tion. When you al­low the com­mu­nity to have a say in the feed­ing pro­gr­mme, peo­ple will de­tect any­thing wide of the mark and ques­tion the author­i­ties.

On the is­sue of qual­ity, we were look­ing at some­thing that is lo­cally sourced. For in­stance, in the North­ern part you have bean cake (Akara). We were look­ing at some­thing that is cheap and easy, af­ford­able and sus­tain­able. It is not ad­vis­able to start giv­ing the pupils im­ported foods. The man­age­ment com­mit­tee of each school will mon­i­tor the food to en­sure ef­fi­ciency.

Early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion is another as­pect that the present ad­min­is­tra­tion pledged to pro­mote…

Yes, early qual­ity ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion is nec­es­sary be­cause it im­proves the foun­da­tion of the pupils. There­fore, the pro­gramme is good. I know that in Nige­ria we have gone far on this pol­icy of early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion. The pol­icy on early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion is fac­ing the prob­lems of poor school in­fra­struc­ture and in­ad­e­quate qual­ity teach­ers. Con­tin­u­ous train­ing and re­train­ing of teach­ers is also im­por­tant be­cause we need to adopt mod­ern teach­ing tech­niques. Gov­ern­ment must tackle the chal­lenges of in­ad­e­quate learn­ing ma­te­ri­als and in­fra­struc­ture in schools in or­der to im­prove ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion.

It seems the gov­ern­ment has been silent on the Al­ma­jiri sys­tem of ed­u­ca­tion for some time now; pos­si­bly due to change of gov­ern­ment. What do you think should be done to re­vive it?

I think Al­ma­jiri sys­tem of ed­u­ca­tion should be looked into be­cause al­ready we have about 10.5 mil­lion out-of­school chil­dren. There are also thou­sands of chil­dren dis­placed by in­sur­gency in North-East re­gion and gov­ern­ment has to take ad­e­quate mea­sures to take them back to schools.

Gov­ern­ment should put in place suf­fi­cient fa­cil­i­ties and mon­i­tor the per­for­mance of the Al­ma­jiri schools. We still have to take ap­pro­pri­ate steps to find out why the chil­dren are not go­ing to school, es­pe­cially the Al­ma­jiri schools. I think a lot has to be done on Al­ma­jiri ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem be­cause it will re­duce the num­ber of chil­dren roam­ing the streets or out-of-school chil­dren.

Chioma Osuji

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