- UNICEF has said that over 60% of Nigerian children are at risk of poor childhood development
- UNICEF said Nigeria is among the top countries contributing to the 250 million children under the age of five who are at the risk of not reaching their potential in life
- The international agency said there is the need to address regulation issues which would serve as a guide to developing children's potentials
The United Nations Children's Fund has said that over 60% of Nigerian children under the age of five are at risk of early childhood development potentials.
The agency said Nigeria is among the top countries contributing to the 250 million children under the age of five who are at the risk of not reaching their potential in life.
Speaking at a two-day media dialogue on Early Childhood Development in Kano on Tuesday, November 7, a UNICEF education specialist, Swadchet Sankey, said these 250 million children are at the risk of not attaining their potential due to stress, lack of stimulation and poor nutrition.
Early Childhood Development (ECD) refers to the physical, cognitive, language, and social and emotional development of a child from the prenatal stage up to age eight.
At the dialogue which was organized by UNICEF in collaboration with the ministry of information, Sankey said, the lack of ECD in children also affects the impact on a country's growth.
She said: "Nigeria does not have the fundamentals in place for a comprehensive approach to ECD, with an integrated multi-sectoral ECD policy, the key indicators of child development outcomes in the country remain low."
She also said current policy on ECD is outdated and needs to be reviewed to contain current thinking and an improved approach to delivering ECD across various platforms in Nigeria.
She added that Nigerians from all works of life and sector of the economy must work together to ensure the attainment of ECD in children.
Sankey said there is need to address regulation issues which would serve as a guide to developing children's potentials.
"There are regulation issues and it is the responsibility of the government to impose these regulations; today you see some schools using the Montessori model while others use the American model. There is no regulation.
"Again, child development is not about biology and genes, it is about environment, nutrition and care. ECD is the foundation for attaining sustainable development and we are working with training institutions, Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) to ensure play-based learning in classrooms," Sankey noted.
In addition, a UNICEF nutrition specialist, Bamidele Omotola, urged mothers to stimulate their children for proper development.
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He said parental stimulation is a major factor in preparing children for the future.
Also, the deputy director of UBEC, Mayowa Aleshi, called for adequate plan and utilization of resources to expand early childhood development in Nigeria.
Aleshi said that, as at 2014, there were 62,406 primary schools but only 28,026 of them had Early Childhood Care and Development Education centres.
He also said these ECCDE centres had 56,588 teachers and caregivers with 74% of these population qualified.
He added that the Nigerian government has set aside 2% of consolidated revenue fund for implementation of UBEC Programme Funding; segregated to a matching grant of 50%, instructional materials at 15%, teachers' development at 10% and 5% each of the three components on pre-primary schools
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