Maximising gains of high-quality early care, education
SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY English philosopher, John Locke, it was who in his 1689 work, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, argued that at birth, the mind is a tabula rasa (a blank slate) that gets filled with knowledge in the course of life, through the five senses.
How impressionable and highly susceptible to knowledge the human mind is, at a tender age, can only be gleaned from Locke’s submission. The Delaware Institute For Excellence in Early Childhood, in the United States, in a policy brief espoused the importance of providing high-quality early care and education programmes for young children and their families.
Writing under the headline: The Importance of High-Quality Early Care and Education….,” the institute stated: “The first five years of a child’s life are a uniquely important period of learning and development. Throughout this time, young children develop the foundational skills necessary to be academically and socially successful in school and beyond. Research shows that during this time of rapid growth, children’s development is greatly influenced by their environment and the interactions that they have with their caregivers”
It added: “In fact, babies’ early experiences actually shape the architecture of their brains. Responsive care and enriching interactions between very young children and their caregivers help to build a solid foundation for learning and development… As children grow into preschoolers, they develop vital skills in literacy, motor development, and social relationships.”
These experiences in the first five or so years of life, experts maintain, are very crucial to the development of social skills, personality, cognitive skills, thinking skills, and decision-making skills.
From the foregoing, it is horrifying to imagine what parents and guardians cause their children and wards to miss when the foundational level of education is defective, inadequate, or altogether not fit for purpose.
Affordability, quality of facilities, safety, and security, availability of co-curricular activities and the deployment of educational technology, and most importantly, quality of education rank top among factors that most parents and guardians take into cognizance when hunting for schools for their children and wards.
But sadly, a good number of them, especially those in the lower middle class and the poor usually make an about-turn once the issue of affordability rears its head. It is usually at this point that some of them miss the boat, as far as setting their children on the right education track is concerned.
According to an education consultant, Alabidun Mahfuz, parents must be careful with the choice of educational facilities at the basic level because it goes a long way in influencing their outlook and career path in the long term. “It’s like a seed planted over time, it will grow to be either positive or negative.
The consultant said parents should always consider the quality of education that schools offer, saying this is crucial to child development. “If he is enrolled in a school that is below his capacity, a child may lag behind his mates in a school with better academic programmes,” he said.
Mahfuz believes that standard facilities, in the line with the 21st Century standard, must be a factor in the selection process because a school that wants to produce the best in this generation must have standard facilities and instructional aids.
“The educators must be experts who are trained to teach and impact children, particularly in this century. Parents should consider a vision-oriented school, rather than a profit-making entity. Schools like this, most times have quality teachers who in the end produce excellent children,” he said.
Educationist, Tokunbo Edun, noted the need for research to determine the right school for children at the basic level, stressing that a lot of care must go into choosing the right education space for a child to start in life.
Said she: “There are many intricate steps that go into the child’s early development process that if they are wrongly managed, can lead to serious problems or lifetime setbacks for a child.
“Adequate settings combined with learning resources; intentional creative learning spaces; trained personnel with adequate systems to ensure that a child attains the developmental milestones while being able to identify red flags and deal with such appropriately.”
Edun added that parents must consider factors such as adequate space/location, trained personnel, educational systems, and curriculum. She added that they should also critically look at learning facilities/resources and the ideology behind the school.
Senator Babafemi Ojodu is one of those that is happy with the decision that he took about his children’s early education. He equally stressed that getting a good school for children early enough helps in harnessing their innate abilities, and ensuring that they are morally guided.
“Once you succeed in getting into the right school, you would have succeeded in setting them on the right track early. Of course, you would reap the benefits bountifully,” Ojodu said.
“My children came out of Mind Builders School- three of them, and from the moment that they left the primary and went to secondary school, they have not stopped and have since become high achievers. When they got there, I noticed that they were getting quite mature intellectually judging even from their discussions at home. From their general approach to learning, you would immediately feel and appreciate the kind of education that they are exposed to.”
As the economy bites and school fees continue to soar, Ojodu believes that “there are still several schools that are still giving good education that parents do not need to break the bank before they can afford. I was a journalist when I discovered the school and just took a chance and it ended up being a good one. Make no mistakes, some very big-name schools offer the kids are not commensurate with their charges. So, big names may not always be it in terms of delivery.
“I made a blind choice and got very lucky because apart from academics, my children’s passions were identified and their skills honed. Before they even left secondary school, they had identified their careers, went ahead to train, and are practicing now successfully as a lawyer, an accountant, and a medical personnel. Despite making their career choices, two of my boys when they were 14 or 15 went ahead to record their musical album in the studio successfully. Following their musical passion did not stop them from excelling in their academics, and this is one of the attributes of good schools,” Ojodu said.
Narrating his personal experience, another lucky parent, Gbenga Badejo, whose child, like that of Ojodu ended up with a first-class degree after sound early education said: “If you build a right and qualitative foundation at the basic level, a child will benefit immensely as h/she climbs the educational ladder. Most graduates can’t speak good English because their English teachers at the primary school were deficient.”
Badejo added: “A school is a veritable source of educational, moral, and spiritual upbringing. Students spend at least six to seven hours in schools or more. A lot of students do not even spend that many hours with their working-class parents. It stands to reason that the quality of the school, educationally, morally, and spiritually matters.”
Speaking to The Guardian on the role that the choice of school plays in making or marring a child’s educational foundation, the Education Director of Mind Builders School (MBS), Mrs. Bola Falore said: “There are three major factors, which I believe may make, or mar the educational foundation of a child namely home, school and the society. The school plays the most critical role.
“To begin with, a school should not just be a centre for learning, it should also be an organisation that employs the best human resources and also utilises the best resources and technology to produce, not only intelligent children, but children who are also morally upright, and have sufficient skills and abilities to succeed in a quickly changing world.
“It is only schools like the one I described above that can make and enhance a child’s educational foundation, by preparing each child for future challenges. I wish to conclude by advising parents not to opt for schools that do not measure up to my recommendations above because they may appear cheap now, but in the long run, the damage they do to children may be irreparable in the future,” she stated.
To celebrate excellence and hard work, which has paid off, the school only recently unfolded what it calls MBS First Class Ambassadors. The group consists of some ex-students of the school that graduated with first class from universities within and outside Nigeria. They include Ugochi Nwabuikwu, who read law at the University of Nottingham, England; Bidemi Babafemi Ojudu, who earned a first-class degree from Durham University, in the United Kingdom, just as Atobiloye Mariam, who studied Molecular Biology at the University of Southern Mississippi, United States also earned such honour in 2020.
Olukayode Mobolaji Oluwasona (Computer Science), University of Computer Science & Skills, Poland, and Babcock University, Ilishan, Ogun State; Opeoluwa Samuel Adewale-Fasoro (Microbiology), Redeemer’s University, Ede, Osun State; Adefolarin Badejo (Accounting & Finance), Babcock University, Ilishan, Ogun State, and Nnaji Chinendu Clinton (Petroleum Engineering), Covenant University, are some of the school’s alumni members that are soaring high.
Falore while expressing excitement over the development said: “Our first-class ambassadors are made up of our primary school graduates who had their very excellent foundation in MBS, and those that came in for their six-year secondary school at MBHS.
She stressed that the school would continue to take deliberate steps towards consolidating its reputation as a centre for knowledge and character training. “Our mentoring and leadership programmes, and Roll of Honours Board are all meant to encourage healthy academic competition among students, while our Academic Support Programme is to aid students with academic challenges.”