1.0.             INTRODUCTION

1.1.      Background of the Study

Parents’ positive attitude towards a child’s education is important in determining school attendance and academic achievement of the child. A favorable attitude towards schooling and education enhances parental involvement in children’s present and future studies (Rojalin, 2012). Parent’s attitude towards their children’s education is affected adversely by low socio-economic status and since the tribal constitute the advantaged population, it is expected that the attitude of parents of tribal children will be favorable towards education. However, the present study aims to examine whether the tribal parents, today, exhibit a positive and favorable attitude towards their children’s education as a result of increasing awareness of values of education through Government Endeavour’s and initiatives (Rojalin, 2012).

Parental attitude is a measure or an index of parental involvement. A child, brought up with affection and care in the least restrictive environment would be able to cope up better with the sighted world. Therefore, the family shapes the social integration of the child more than a formal school. Turnbull (2009) has identified four basic parental roles- parents as educational decision-makers; parents as parents; parents as teachers and parents as advocates. Since the parent's attitude is so important, it is essential that the home and school work closely together, especially for children with disabilities. The Warnock Report (2007) stresses the importance of parents being partners in the education of their children. The role of parents should actively support and enrich the educational processes. Korth (2004) states that parents should be recognized as the major teacher of their children and the professional should be considered consultants to parents. Tait (2010) opines that the parents’ psychological well-being and the ease or difficulties with which they decipher the cues that facilitate the socialization process influence the personal and social development of the child. It is the parents who exert the major influence on the development of the child from birth to maturity. One of the most important attributes of parental attitude is consistency. As children mature into adolescence, family involvement in their learning remains important. Family involvement practices at home and at school have been found to influence secondary school students’ academic achievement, school attendance, and graduation and college matriculation rates (Dornbusch and Ritter, 2011). Despite its importance, however, families’ active involvement in their children’s education declines as they progress from elementary school to middle and high school (Epstein, 2003). Research suggests that schools can reverse the decline in parent involvement by developing comprehensive programs of the partnership (Epstein, 2002).

1.2.      Early Childhood Education in Nigeria

In Nigeria, organized education of the child below primary school age did not receive official recognition until very recently, receive the attention it deserved. The concept of infant schools was introduced in Nigeria by the missionaries in the early 20th century when such schools were set up in the Western and Eastern regions of Nigeria. Early Childhood Education in the form of nursery school or pre-primary education as we know it today in Nigeria is largely a post-colonial development. The semblances of it during the colonial era were the Kindergarten and infant classes, which consisted of groups of children considered not yet ready for primary education. As groping for instruction in schools was not age-based during that period, some children aged six or even more, could be found in some of the infant classes (Tor-Anyiin, 2008). With the phasing out of infant classes, some parents began to feel the need for nursery schools.

During that period, (pre-independence) all efforts for the provision of early childhood education were confined to the voluntary sector and received little or no support from the government (Tor-Anyiin, 2008). It was for the first time in 1977 with the introduction of the National Policy on Education by the then military government of Nigeria that the importance and need for early childhood education were given official recognition and linked with the child’s educational performance in primary school. Gradually, early childhood institutions stayed, and by 1985, Nigeria had about 4200 early childhood educational institutions. While by 1992 the number increased to about 8,300 (Federal Government of Nigeria/UNICEF 2003).

Nowadays, early childhood educational institutions are located in various places and buildings campuses of universities and Colleges, premises of some industries and business organizations, church premises, residential buildings with unprecedented expansion owing to the high demand for early childhood care and education by parents (Ejieh, 2006).

1.2.1.   Concept of Early Childhood Care and Education

Maduewesi (2009) refers to early childhood care and education as the education offered to children who have not yet reached the statutory age of beginning primary school. He further maintained that it is a semi-formal education arrangement, usually outside the home whereby young children from about the age of 3 years are exposed through play-like activities in a group setting through mental, social, and physical learning suited to their developmental stages until the mandatory age of government-approved formal schooling. FRN (2004) refers to early childhood care and Education(pre-primary education) as an education given in an educational institution to children aged 3-5plus prior to their enrollment in the primary school.

1.2.2.   Objectives of Early Childhood Education

The objectives of early childhood education according to FRN (2004) are:

1.                  Effect a smooth transition from home to school

2.                  Prepare the child for the primary level of education

3.                  Provide adequate care and supervision for the children while their parents are at work   (on the farm, in the market, or in offices)

4.                  Inculcate social norms

5.                  Inculcate in the child the spirit of inquiry and creativity through the exploration of nature, the environment, art, music and playing with toys, and so on.

6.                  Develop a sense of cooperation and team spirit

7.                  Learn good habits, especially good health habits and.

8.                  Teach the rudiments of numbers, letters, colors, shapes, forms, and so on through play.

1.2.3.   Basic Curriculum Provision of National Policy on Pre-Primary Education

The FRN (2004) outlined some steps the government designed to achieve the objectives of preprimary education in Nigeria, which are as follows;

1.      Encourage private efforts in the provision of pre-primary education

2.      Making provision in Teacher Training Institution for production of a specialist teacher in preprimary education.

3.      Ensuring that the medium of instruction will be principally the mother-tongue or the language of the local community.

a.                   Develop the orthography for many more Nigerian languages, and.

b.                  Produce textbooks in Nigerian languages, FRN reported that some of these developments are already being pursued in the University Departments of linguistics under the auspices of some state ministries of Education. This Language center will be expanded so as to have wide scope;

1.                  Ensure that the main method of teaching in the pre-primary institutions will be through play and that the curriculum of teacher training college is appropriately oriented to achieve this.

1.2.4.   Early Childhood Education and its Problems

Nigerian education system since independence can best be described as a system riddled with the crisis. It is not strange for this to be so, because we had inherited the system from our colonial master (Eriba, 2011). Judged against this premise, it becomes very challenging for Nigerians to manage the educational system passed to them by the British. So the system becomes inundated with diverse crises since independence. According to Eriba (2011), the educational system has been in a state of permanent crisis that it has lost quality, efficacy, and functionality over the years. Early childhood education in Nigeria is not left out in these crises which tend to make the gains of education less spectacular. The challenges which these problems have precipitated for the nation will be highlighted in few key areas so as to provide a framework for considered action by the stakeholders.            Proliferation of Early Childhood Institutions

The official provision made in the National Policy on Education (FGN 2004) mandated the Government to encourage private efforts in the provision of early childhood education in the country. More so, owing to the high demand for early childhood education by parents, it does not take a long time for newly established early childhood institutions to grow and develop. According to Nwakaego (2007), it is becoming customary to operate an early childhood institution in every household. currently, early childhood education institutions are located in various places and buildings-campuses of some universities and colleges, premises of some industrial and business organizations, church premises, residential buildings some part or the whole of which are hired for use as early childhood schools (Ejieh, 2006). The flip side of this proliferation of early childhood institutions is that the issue of standards and “regulations” have been waived off. The end result is that the young minds are offered “substandard” and “irregular” education that cannot breed egalitarianism and self-reliant individuals of the society and leaders of tomorrow (Tombowua, 2013).            Quality and Qualification of Teachers

The quality of the teachers determines the strength of any educational system and the value of the learners (Okoro, 2004). In Nigerian early childhood institutions today, the teacher quality is generally low. It is only a few of the nursery schools especially those owned by educational institutions, private companies, and wealthy individuals that can afford to engage the services of university graduate teachers and holders of Nigerian Certificate in Education (NCE) qualifications, competent and committed teachers, and are also capable of retaining such teachers. Most others employ a few NCE teachers (if any at all), who are usually underpaid, while others employ mainly Grade Two teachers and secondary school leavers with school Certificate or General Certificate (ordinary level) qualification. In a situation where most of the teachers in our early childhood institutions are unqualified and/or unprofessional, effective teaching and learning cannot be achieved (Tombowua, 2013).            In-effective Supervision of Early Childhood Institutions

            No educational plan however excellent it may be can be effectively implemented if the school supervision is ineffective. State Ministry of Education officials are in principle, supposed to visit and inspect the physical plant, the human and other resources available in a proposed nursery school and if these are found to be adequate, the ministry would approve the school for operation (Tombowua, 2013). In most cases, these visits are made a long time after the school had become operational and had been paying the prescribed taxes. The same is true in regard to teachers in nursery schools. Some of the people employed to teach the children are neither trained to teach nor do they know how to handle or relate to children (Tombowua, 2013).            Language Policy Implementation

In spite of the laudable provision of the language policy, nothing much seems to have been achieved. Firstly, the position of the Nigerian language as a medium of instruction is hard to come by. The FGN/UNICEF (2003) reported that about 93.2% of teaching and learning in Nigerian preschools was done in English. The 6.8% use immediate language shows a clear lackadaisical attitude towards the implementation of the issue of medium of instruction in mother-tongue or language of the immediate community. This problem is likely to be connected with parents' and pupils' interest in English which has been in use since 1842, as well as its official position in Nigeria (Tor-Anyiin, 2008). The low literacy rate even in English indicates poor implementation of the language policy; he further maintained that lack of implementation of language policy has affected the quality of Nigeria Educational development (Tombowua, 2013).            Teacher-Pupil Ratio

The policy position of the teacher-pupil ratio of 1:25 is also not implemented due to lack of supervision or monitoring. Indeed, since businessmen/women dominate this education sector, profit maximization is their main concern. As such, employing more teachers to maintain this ratio is not beneficial to them, hence, early childhood institutions have a ratio that depends on available children. This goes further to explain the accommodation problem of this educational level. Though higher institutions are now offering early childhood education courses, however, Government nonencouragement in terms of scholarship and teachers’ poor financial remuneration is blocking many of the opportunities to go for such courses and help man the institutions. Indeed, since, the proprietors are money conscious their payment is not encouraging to warrant many people take to the study of early childhood education (Tor-Anyiin, 2008).




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