By Morris Mabior Awikjokdit,
Early childhood education is an organized form of educational provision for children between the ages of 3 to 6 years old and there is a great need for the government of South Sudan to put much attention in the provision of pre- school across the ten states in the country. Such provision should be made in the form of pre- schools. Pre- schools perform their functions most effectively when they offer an informal type of social and educational experience to very young children, with much of the learning taking place through play. Pre- school learning is transitional between learning in the home and learning in the schools. South Sudan since the last concluded civil war that has resulted into hard won attainment of Independence dependent on foreign syllabuses beginning from unfix ladder right from primary, secondary to university level which is very difficult process in other advance nations like Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and so forth have well established ladder of educational system. Our country South Sudan as a young nation learning to walk need to copy and imitate from her sisterly countries any means possible to address education requirements.
The pre- school can never substitute for the home and it should never imitate the school. By providing children with a large circle of playmates and a wide range of supervision, play activities and learning experiences, pre- schools supplement the extensive learning that occurs in a child’s home and within the home environment. As children approach the age of school entry, their activities at pre- school maybe less spontaneous and more ordered, in preparation for life at school, but purposeful play will still be the main mode of learning. Our high government ranks and files assumed that taking their children to East Africa will bring home quality education but it will never bring any single gradual change as long as their expectations about their children is accomplished than there is no problem for the rest of the children from poor families background.
The significance of education at this level lies in the importance of early experiences in the development of a child’s social, physical, mental and emotional capabilities, and in the role that early childhood education can play in preparing children to adapt to the more formal learning atmosphere of the basic school. This initial education also helps to build up children ‘cultural capital’ and to compensate for disadvantages that they may bring from homes where few reading, writing or other education related materials are found.
At present only a small minority like Equatorians children of South Sudan’s are benefiting and able to profit from foreign education at this level. Up to this stage, they have any problem with both educations, health and physical development process accept some invisible part of the country and this can be digested by wise politicians and philosophers. This is because there are relatively few pre- schools. The majority of these are privately owned and operated though some are run by local councils. All aim to meet their costs through fees which few normal Southern households can afford. In addition most of the pre- schools are found in urban areas like Juba, Yei, Maridi, Wau, Kuajok, Tonj mission, Himango and other parts of the country respectively where the population is large enough to ensure their viability.
Although some rural pre- schools exist, they are few and far between. Because of the associated costs, very few poor children enjoy the benefits of education at this end like the author himself. Because of its urban concentration, it reaches very few rural children. The national ministry of education should encourage the establishment of programmes that support all round early childhood development in South Sudan, particularly those programmes intended for children living in rural and poor urban areas. Within the constraints of available resources it will work to this end with partner state ministries, counties and urban payams, local communities, non- governmental organizations, religious groups, families and individuals.
The Hon. Minister of education should also continue to dedicate some of its resources to this level of education through the training of pre- school teachers, cooperation in the monitoring of pre- school standards, assistance in curriculum formulation and the design of materials, and support for the development of policy guidelines. I am seeing that the ministry of education should recognizes that early childhood education is very beneficial for the development of the child and useful as a preparatory stage for entry into basic or primary school. However, because of the limitations of access, it will not establish pre- school as a condition of a country entering into another phase of civil war and political unrest.
Childhood education policy
The national ministry of education should acknowledge the important role of early childhood education in the multi- dimensional development of young children preparing them to primary education. Within the constraints of available resources the national ministry of education should encourage and facilitate the establishment of pre- school programmes that would reach out to all children especially to those living in rural and poor urban areas. The provision and funding of early childhood education will be the responsibility of councils, local communities, non- governmental organizations, private, individuals and families.
Strategies and mechanisms
The ministry should provide professional services to pre- school education by training teachers for pre- schools, developing curriculum materials for use in pre- schools, and maintaining standards at pre- schools. The ministry should collaborate with providers, partner ministries and others to develop policy guidelines for pre- school and early childhood education.