UNESCO Regional Director, Mr. Ydo Yao, who stated that every Nigerian child has right to early childhood learning said there was need for partnerships to conduct needs assessment on the Early Childhood Care Education (ECCE) Play and Resilient project, aimed at promoting basic education and enabling easy transition to primary classes.
He disclosed this at a stakeholders meeting, held in Abuja to discuss report findings on the ECCE needs assessment conducted in Adamawa and Ebonyi States. The China-Africa collaboration project is being implemented also in South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Responding to commitments from the World Bank representative, Dr. Tunde Adekola, who charged stakeholders to extend the study to other states, Yao said UNESCO was ready and willing to work with the Bank.
The project was aimed at supporting states and non-state actors, challenged with poor ECCE to develop their capacity and materials production.
Yao said: “UNESCO is not a funding agency but when we heard about you saying money is not an issue, we are very happy. As you know, we are technical cooperation agency. We initiate some ideas on technical issues that we share with government and when government sees that it is good like this project, we are very happy.
“The government has bought into this, so the second phase is to look for partners, who will accompany us to make maximum impact on children in Nigerian as much as possible because, you have really said it, the few states we conducted the study on are not enough and all Nigerian children deserve to be taken care of.
“I can assure you that my team and others will meet very soon, come up with a proposal so that you can accommodate us in this scaling up and majority of the children can benefit from it.”
Adekola, who is World Bank Senior Education Specialist, urged all concerned stakeholders to replicate the study in the states, especially Kano, Jigawa, Niger, and Sokoto.
He called for consistent capacity building for teachers in order to deliver good and quality education to the pupils.
According to him, the ECCD is a very sustainable strategy to reduce out of school children in Nigeria. “The experience has shown, when people get closer to education, it is like air. Once you breathe in, you won’t die. You can talk about the quality of air you breathe which will determine your lifespan but in terms of existence, you need air to breathe, the same thing with education.
“If children start breathing in very early in life, many of us who are here it’s because we are part of the experience. I will like to say ECCD can provide equity of opportunity for everybody to have same opportunities to have access and better life in the future so that things will go on,” Adekola said.
The representative, who lauded UNESCO’s effort on the recommendations in the report restated commitment of the World Bank to addressing the situation and to solve problem of inequality and guarantee better future for the children.
His words: “I will advise Niger, Kano, Jigawa and Sokoto State to replicate this type of study in the states. Let’s meet with the SUBEC Chairman on this so they can use it as a tool for policy dialogue. It is not by coming to Abuja and talking to people here but the real people are over there. Anything we discuss here, we are just discussing between ourselves.
“We are ready and we will support part of the meager resources. We also have resources in additional financing to states in the north east, so we need to do everything possible to ensure they also have this type of study.”
“We are ready to support you in advocacy, capacity building of all the relevant stakeholders of the state actors and non-state actors, federal, state, local governments and the biggest of all caregivers, the teachers themselves, Adekola added.”
He argued that the chunk sum of budget to the sector is being spent on the teachers, thus similar value should be derived from teachers to the pupils.