The Foundation for Promotion of Childhood Care and Development (FPCD) in Nigeria, a Non-Governmental Organisation, has urged the Federal Government to implement the national policy for Integrated Early Childhood Development (IECD) in the country.
The FPCD Country Representative, Mrs Margaret Akinware, made the call at the opening of a workshop on promotion of early childhood education in Ibadan on Tuesday.
The workshop was organised in support of African Early Childhood Network (AFECN).
Akinware said the implementation of the policy would assist government in closing the gap in early childhood education between children of the poor and children of the rich.
She said if the policy was fully implemented, it would create a favourable condition for Nigerian children to thrive and develop to their fullest potential.
According to her, the 2015 UNICEF data revealed that out of 20 per cent of the children of the poorest , only 20 per cent have access to early childhood education while among the 20 per cent of the richest, 84 per cent have access.
” In all, 43 per cent of these children benefit from early childhood care and education. The implication is that in the operation of ECD, there are still great landmarks to cover,” he said.
Akinware, who noted that it was the right of every child to have access to education, called on all levels of government to fund early childhood education in the country.
She said there was no integrated strategic plan in place to achieve the operation of ECD in Nigeria.
” It is for this purpose among others that FPCD and other stakeholders have set out to prepare a five-year strategic plan from 2017 to 2021,’’ she said.
Akinware said FCDP was collaborating with existing child-focused public and private organisations to support strategic advocacy to all tiers of government in the implementation and evaluation of ECD policy in Nigeria.
In her remarks, Dr Temitayo Ogunsanwo, the Chairman, Steering Committee for the workshop, said the vision of the organisation was to ensure that all young children in Nigeria grow up in a safe, healthy and nurturing environment.
Ogunsanwo said the workshop would deliberate on the needs of children between 0 and five years in Nigeria and draw a five-year plan for meeting their basic needs.