By Tobias Lengnan Dapam

In Sokoto state, Bodinga community engagement is taking children off the streets to be enrolled in Early Childhood Education (ECE).

The community rely on the School Based Management Committees (SBMCs) to sensitise its populace on the need for ECE enrollment.

“The initiative has taken a lot of children off the streets to the class rooms”, the local chief, (Turakin Bondiga), Bala Sani has said.

He said the overall objective of SBMC in the community was to evaluate the quality of service delivery in primary education.”

The programme which was implemented in Nigeria in 2013, was to enable governments and service providers to identify gaps and track progress in the education sector.

The programme was also to improve accountability and educational outcomes through the involvement of teachers, parents, and students in school management and decision making.

The Turaki who is SBMC chairman in the community and a member of the District Education Council (DEC), said they are working closely with the Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) to ensure house to house visitation to sensitise parents on the need to send their children to school.

“ We have female teachers who are working with us in this house to house campaign. So far, people in the community are complying and I am happy with the results that we are getting.

“We are working together to reduce the number of out-of-school children in the community. I also report all our engagements to the higher traditional authority to know about our progress.

“I am happy about the current feat in the state and the level of cooperation that we are getting from parents. I assure you that very soon this community will standout as the best in the state.

Also speaking, a member of the women association, Zainab Musa, said the committee has embarked on several campaigns in the community.

“In our own sensitization campaign, we target mothers to send their children to school. We usually give them example of other women who are highly placed in the community because of their educational background. This very example has challenged a lot of women to send their children to school.”

She said the the association will continue the campaign to ensure that the community does not have out -of -school children.

Speaking on the success of Better Education Service Delivery for All (BESDA), the national implementation adviser of the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Dr Danjumma Adamu Dabo, said Sokoto State has exceeded enrollment by 140%.

He said with an enrollment figure of over 70,000 children, Sokoto state has been adjudged, under the Better Education Service Delivery for All (BESDA) program as having surpassed the watershed mark of 100% by recording over 140%.

He stated this recently when he led the BESDA implementation committee on a courtesy visit to Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal at the Council Chamber of Government House, Sokoto.

According to him, Sokoto state government is one of the states that have shown a remarkable achievements on BESDA implementation.

He said available record shows that in the seven local governments participating in the BESDA program, 769 schools are online and have registered 264,785, outstripping the targeted enrollment of 187,682.

He explained that so far, in the non-formal learning centres the program have recorded over 4000 enrollment, which is a very laudable achievement by the state government.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF),
Education Specialist, Yetunde Oluwatosin,
said only 36 percent of children in Nigeria attend Early Childhood Education (ECE).

Speaking at a media dialogue on ECE organised by the Child Rights Information Bureau (CRIB) of the Federal Ministry of Education, in collaboration with UNICEF in Sokoto, she said at least 10 million children are not enrolled in ECE in the country, despite the fact that it is a critical foundation for all forms of learning, and development of a child.

According to the education specialist, research has shown that children who attend ECE perform better and have better earnings potentials.

As a consequence, she said 2 in 5 children are not on track in development.

Oluwatosin expressed concerns that the situation is worsening inequalities.

She disclosed that only 8 percent of the poorest children attend early childhood education, but 78 percent of the richest children are enrolled.

On the challenges, she said inadequate ECE teaching & learning materials affects the success of the programme.

“ There is also lack of proper awareness which leads to low public demand for ECE enrollment. Low support for early learning (including at home) Systems is another major factor.

“Others are; Poor subsector analysis, planning & coordination.
Inadequate spending on ECE and lack of data on early learning.

To ensure success and continuity of the programme, she said there must be leadership and governance continuity including deliberate investment in the sector.
Speaking further, she said active parental / caregiver engagement in learning is necessary to ensure sustainability of the programme.

“There is also need for cooperation with communities linked to
schools as platforms for child health, nutrition and protection.
“There is also need to encourage and strengthen parents’ role as first educators to boost enrollment.”
While saying ECE is everybody’s responsibility, she said
capacity building remains key in in ensuring success.

“Also necessary is appropriate curriculum and provision of adequate teaching and learning materials. Public financing and relevant partnership is important for ECE.

“ We need available data for ECE and building of programme on public financing, advocacy, policy reviews, regulatory oversight and quality assurance.

“There is also need to expand ECE to the underserved and marginalised people across the country. We need to strengthen continuous teacher professional development. We must expand community provisions for ECE.
“We must continue to advocate for strengthened systems
for ECCDE policy, advocacy, capacity
building and financing.

“We must improved and expand equitable, inclusive, quality ECCDE through ensuring continuous professional development standards, adequate teaching and learning materials, community-based provision and engagement of parents and communities as partners.”

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