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This study was carried out to appraise early child care centres in public primary schools in Nsukka Education Zone of Enugu State. The study centred on the material requirements in the centre. Descriptive research design was used for the study. Twelve research questions were used for the study. Checklist schedule and questionnaires were used for data collection. The instruments were face validated by three experts. The  hecklist was used by the researcher to elicit information on the availability of material requirements while the questionnaire was administered on 476 ECC teachers to elicit information on the extent of utilization of the materials. The administration and retrieval were through direct contact with respondents. The findings of the study revealed that material requirements on record books are all available with different percentage ratings; only two items are utilized to a great extent, two items to a low extent and eight items are utilized to a very low extent; Protection Materials are available with different percentage ratings, two of the items utilized to a very low extent; one (1) nutrition material facility is not available in all the centres while 6 others are available; two of the materials are utilized to a great extent, 2 to a low extent and 3 items to a very low extent; four (4) out of eighteen (18) health materials are not available in any of the centres; three items are utilized to a great extent, 6 items to a low extent and nine items to a very low extent; instructional materials are all available in all the centres at different percentage ratings; Four (4) of the items are utilized to a very great extent, four (4) items to a great extent, 6 items to a low extent and 3 items to a very low extent. Lastly, the finding of the study revealed that water and environmental facilities, are all available; five of the items are utilized to a great extent while one (1) item is utilized to a very low extent.


Background of the Study

Early Childhood care (ECC)/Pre-primary education is considered by many societies and individuals to be beneficial to young children for their educational development. Early childhood care is an arrangement consisting of children who are not yet ready for primary education. It is an arrangement to ensure that children are physically, mentally, emotionally, socially competent and intellectually sound to learn when sent to school. Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN, 2004:11) in the National Policy on Education (NPE) define ECC “as the education given in an educational institution to children prior to their entering the primary school”. It includes the crèche, the nursery and the kindergarten. The crèche is for children
between 0-2 years. Nursery is for 3-4 years while kindergarten is for 3-5 years old. 

Maduewesi (2005) defined early child care education as integrating development and education of children below the age of six years. According to Ibiam and Ugwu (2009), it is education planned to develop in children within the age of five the habits, attitude and skills needed for primary education. Hodges (2001) sees it as a period in which behaviour are shaped or modified. This definition was supported in the bible (Proverbs 22:6) which says “train a child in the way he should grow, and when he is old he will not depart from it”.

Age appropriate curriculum according to  orrison (2011) defined early childhood education “as the provision of learning to children before the commencement of statuary and obligatory education, usually between the ages of zero and three or five, depending on the jurisdiction”. Ejieh (2006) opined that early childhood care and education in the form of nursery school or pre-primary education as we know it in Nigeria, is largely a post colonial development.

The semblance of it during the colonial era were the kindergarten and infant classes, which consist of groups of children considered not yet ready for primary education. This kind of education is a post colonial education which is a resemblance of the kindergarten and infant classes during the colonial periods. The arrangement according to Federal Government of Nigeria/UNICEF (FRN,2004) in the National minimum standard include care and nurturing for the child, health and good nutrition, including breastfeeding for up to six months, access to safe water, sanitation and immunization against diseases.

It requires a protective atmosphere that encourages early socialization, stimulation and positive interaction with family and community and also proper record keeping. The above enumerated care and nurturing for the educational and developmental needs of the child are very important and crucial.
Health and nutrition are very crucial for proper development. Health according to World Health Organization (WHO) (1999) is defined “as complete
physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity”. Nutrition is concerned with food, nutrients and other substances with their roles in the maintenance of good health.

It can be seen as food and other substances eaten by living being. According to Ugwoke and Eze (2010:112) “Every living being needs food as an indispensable source of nutrient”. Nutrient in food supplies the body with energy, support growth, maintain the body and also repair worn out tissues.
Record books are those important books which must be seen in the ECC centres for proper documentation. The document i.e National Minimum Standard prescribed that they must be kept in every ECC centre for proper recording and easy administration in the centre. These records are very important for proper management of activities in the centre.
Protection of the children is another major aspect of rendering care and nurturing to children in the centre. Protection ensures proper security of the children from hazardous animals, humans, kidnappers, prevent outside interference of animals and protect children straying out side and so on. Protection ensures that the children are not exposed to dangers in the ECC environment.
Instructional materials are materials which are needed for providing psychosocial care (education). They are materials for teaching and learning. These materials according to (FRN, 2004) in the National Minimum Standard promote the children’s mental and social development by being responsive to the children’s needs and care and stimulating the child through talking, playing and other interaction.
Water is an essential part of food nutrient. Water apart from drinking is highly needed for maintenance of clean and disease free environment. Water is used for washing feeding materials, and overall maintenance of good hygiene which inturn promote good health. The environment of the ECC centre should be such that will support good health, nutrition and protection of the children in the centre. Such facilities like toilets for teachers and children, sanitary facilities like toilet rolls, potties, water, soap and wash hand basins must be provided.

The toilet facilities like
pit latrines must be properly covered locked and secured. In order to enhance proper care and nurturing of the children in the centre, the material requirements on protection, nutrition, health, safe water and environmental facilities, materials for record keeping and adequate instructional materials must be available and utilized.  

Availability in this context refers to materials or facilities that must be readily found or accessible for use in the centre. Utilization is using the materials/facilities in practical terms in the ECC centres. The care the child receives at early years of life prepares the child for success or failure in life. Available evidence suggest that early childhood education has a positive influence on education development of children in later life and some writers on early childhood have confirmed the above statement. (Barnet, and Rolnick, 2006).

The importance of early years have equally been confirmed by medical and educational researchers to be the period of rapid mental growth as well as the development of intelligence, personality and social behaviors (Helm Katz, 2001). Hodges (2002:135) recorded that “the last three months of prenatal life and the first two years after birth have been termed the most critical period to brain growth spurt.

According to him, “the experience of childhood determines whether a child grows up to be intelligent or dull, fearful or self assured, articulate or tongue tied”. The Carnegie Task Force on meeting the needs of young children (1995:8) recorded that “Brain development before age (one) is more rapid and extensive than was previously realized. Although cell formation is virtually complete before birth, brain maturation continues after birth. The early years of the child is a very important and crucial period of rapid and risky development since it has been confirmed by researchers to be the period that determined what a child will be at later stage of life.

For this reason, intervention even in kindergarten may be too late to help develop young children’s capacities. Whatever the child gains or looses at this stage may make or mar the child completely. Therefore, the effectiveness of quality early child development programme in spurring children mental, emotional and physical development should be considered very necessary.
In view of the importance of early education in the life of an individual, the Federal government of Nigeria (2004:11) gave an official recognition to this education level in the National Policy on Education and its objectives are stated as to:
Effect a smooth transition from the home to school; prepare the child for the primary level of education while their parents are at work (on the farms, in the market, office etc); inculcate social norms, inculcate in the child the spirit of enquiry and creativity through the exploration of nature, the environment, art, music, and playing with toys; develop sense of co-operation and team spirit; learn good habits through play. Government on its own part shall establish pre-primary/early child care centres and encourage both communities/private bodies in the provision of early childhood/ pre-primary education. Government’s responsibilities include: to promote the training of qualified teachers in adequate numbers, contribute to the development of suitable curriculum, ensure full participation of communities and teachers association in the running and maintenance of early childhood education facilities.


Government shall also ensure that the main method of teaching is principally the mother tongue or the language of the immediate environment and that at this level of education, the method of teaching shall be through play. It is the duty of the government to produce text books in Nigeria languages. The government shall also set and monitor minimum standard for early child care centres in the country. The National minimum standard is a document produced by Nigerian Educational Research and Development council (NERDC) in August 2004 with the support of UNICEF for care and education of children within the ages of 0-5 years.
It is an Integrated Early Childhood Development (IECD) guideline for operating ECC/Pre-primary education in Nigeria. It is a guideline for operators and stakeholders so that the practice and operation of early child care and pre-primary education will become standardized all over the country.
The aim of IECD is to integrate interventions from various sectors of health, nutrition, education, protection and participation to ensure positive outcomes for the child in the area of cognitive achievement, care and development.

The objectives of IECD in Nigeria are therefore to provide care and support to the child in form of good nutrition and health for children, a healthy and safe environment, psycho-social stimulation, protection and security, inculcate in the child the spirit of enquiry and creativity through the exploration of nature, environment, art, music and playing with toys etc, effect a smooth transition from the home to the school, prepare the child to adapt successfully when their current context changes, provide adequate care and supervision for the children while their parents are at work (on the farms, in the markets, offices, industry etc);and inculcate social norms that is culturally relevant skills and behaviours which allow them to function effectively in their current context. In order to ensure smooth running of the programme, the minimum standards prescribed the type of integrated early child development implementation centres

• Daycare/crèche for ages 0 – 2 years.
• Pre-nursery /play group for ages 3 – 4 years.
• Nursery/kindergarten for ages 3 – 5 years plus.
The document prescribed also the materials needed for proper management and care of the children in the centre. (See Appendix 1v)  Child care education can be offered in so many different places, ranging from existing schools, halls, mosques, Churches, families, purpose built structures and so on. (NERDC&UNICEF) in the National Minimum standard. In view of this, the federal government of Nigeria translated the convention right of the child (CRC) into Child Right Act (CRA) and further into Universal Basic Education (UBE) Act of 2004 in (Aluede, 2006).

This then placed the early childhood education into mainstream. With the introduction of UBE, government directed that all public primary schools in the country should run early child care education programme with the aim of preparing children for primary education challenges. It is the worry of the researcher that in public primary schools, some of the material requirements for the running of ECC may either be unavailable or available but not utilized. The researcher is appraising school based centres i.e. early child care centres in the public primary schools to know if they are run in accordance with the stipulated standards. (see Appendix 1v)


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