By Victoria Onehi
The Federal Government has said play-based learning remains a major tool required for the Early Childhood Care Development and Education (ECCDE) to succeed.
The Director, Basic Education at the Federal Ministry of Education (FME) Dr Mrs Folake Olatunji-Davids, stated this in Abuja at the National Dialogue on play-based learning in Early Childhood Care Development and Education (ECCDE) organised by the Development Research and Project Centre (dRPC) with support of the Ford Foundation Build Programme.
“The focus of this gathering is critical to foundational learning and epitomizes the core ideals of Department of Basic Education and the Federal Ministry of Education as a whole.
“Over the years, play-based learning has emerged as a method of teaching in early years to engage children in their most familiar comfort zone, by allowing them to guide their learning within the realm of their curiosity and interests.
“Learning Through Play (LTP) is a vital teaching method as it helps children to learn faster. It is also used to develop children’s skills in choice areas and can be used with children of any age. Through play, children can develop social, cognitive and emotional skills such as ability to develop positive relationships with peers.” She said.
She further disclosed that in the area of Teacher training for Play-based learning in Nigeria, the ministry has supported and encouraged the capacity building of teachers and learning through play-based method by the development of facilitators guide and participants manual with specific focus on Reggio Emilia and other child centered approaches, improved curriculum, mentoring and support programs.
The representative of the Executive Director, Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC),
Dr Margaret Lawani, said for the method of play-based learning to be implemented then teachers must be aware of it.
” From the NERDC, we have formulated policies, but it is not enough to have policies, what is important is the implementation. There are many standards, benchmarks that have been formulated, but how far have we gone? Research has shown that 75 percent of public schools teachers in the South West Nigeria do not have any of the policy document.Therefore their teachers are not aware of the policy guiding the implementation of ECCD in the country.”She said
Speaking further, a Professor of Education from University of Ibadan, Prof Esther Oduolowu, said there was need for a strategic method to breakdown the policy and find a way to implement it.
The Country Coordinator Early Child Development Initiative (ECDI) Dr Amy Panyi, said to help implement the the National Policy on ECCD,there was need for proper Monitoring and Evaluation.
She said part of the challenges of implementing the Learn Through Play (LTP) approach was the teacher to pupils ratio.” Many of the teachers have so many pupils than they can handle.Many of the teachers have over 50 pupils in their classes.” She noted.
She therefore urge the government to create a proper environment for the play-based learning in public schools as well as build the capacities of the teachers to impact knowledge on their pupils through this method.
The Executive Director of Development Research and Project Centre (dRPC), Dr Judith-Ann Walker, said though the government has done well by having a National Policy on ECCD but alot of research does not give adequate attention to ECCD in Nigeria.
” We have done research and have seen that budget allocation to ECCD is not significant. The N121 million allocated to the ECCD in 2023 is just 0.04 percent of the total education capital budget despite Nigeria’s pledge to devote 10 percent of it’s budget to this sector.” She noted.
However,she believes the government and stakeholders are ready to combat the challenges and address issues to accelerate the implementation of existing policies and enhance quality and equity within the Early Child Care Education sub-sector.