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Rethinking school age entry standards in Nigeria

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By Mercy Kelani

This will allow children to cope with challenges of the learning environment.

Hanatu Enwemadu, the Executive Director of A Mother’s Love Initiative emphasizes the importance of setting a standard for the age at which children begin their schooling to prevent any potential exploitation within the Education system. AMLI, situated in Nigeria, is an independent organization that centers its efforts on enhancing education for African children while also advocating for equal rights and opportunities within the digital sphere. The NGO partners with the Coalition on Education of Civil Society Actions, in joint efforts to accomplish their goals. On January 23, 2024, in Lagos, Mrs. Enwemadu addressed the audience in anticipation of the upcoming 2024 World Education Day, was held on January 24, 2024.

Every year, on January 24, the United Nations designates a special day known as World Education Day. This day serves as a comprehensive assessment of the current progress and future plans for enhancing childhood education. The focal point for the 2024 World Education Day revolved around the theme of Sustainable Knowledge for Enduring Harmony. Regulating the educational process is necessary, according to Mrs Enwemadu. She believes that this is crucial in order for children to reach a certain level of development where their mental and social abilities have begun to take shape, allowing them to cope with the challenges of the learning environment.

Suitability of the age at which children commence their education is key.

The AMLi director expressed disapproval towards the prevalent societal custom of rushing children into school and strongly supported the implementation of a nationwide policy regulating the age at which Nigerian children should start their education. On the occasion of International Day for Education, she expressed that it presents a chance to rectify the flaws within the educational structure in order to mould a more prosperous and harmonious society. In the year 2024, the global attention is drawn towards the importance of children’s well-being in relation to education, under the theme of Learning for lasting Peace. It is crucial for Nigeria, the entirety of Africa, and the entire world to direct their efforts towards understanding the type of children who will be instrumental in establishing enduring peace.

Optimal mental well-being in children is achieved when they are given the freedom to naturally mature and progress according to their own individual timelines. The key determinant of children’s mental wellness lies in the suitability of the age at which they commence their education. The adverse consequences of ‘The hurried child syndrome’ extend towards children who undergo an accelerated learning and growth journey, leading them to eventually experience physical malformations. Not only that, but these children also face a range of psychological, social, and emotional imbalances.

It is imperative for the gov’t to intervene & put an end to this practice.

Her perspective reveals that the primary aim of the Federal Government is to guarantee access for all Nigerian children to education, with a focus on obtaining fundamental literary and numeric abilities before reaching the age of 10. According to her, AMLi strongly supports the idea that children must exclusively join classes based on their age. The consideration of children’s maturity, age, and mental state in educational institutions should be a matter of importance for everyone. Failing to follow this approach is one of the factors that contribute to the ongoing educational crisis in Nigeria.

She believes that with the influence of economic strain and parents separating from their children at a young age, it is imperative for the government to intervene and put an end to this practice in order to benefit society as a whole. She earnestly called upon the National Orientation Agency and various stakeholders to take action in enlightening Nigerians about the repercussions of enrolling children who are below the appropriate age for school. She perceived this as a rushed approach that hinders children’s crucial developmental stages.

Its consequences could exert influence on a person’s mature years.

Characterizing it as a type of child maltreatment with the potential to engender lasting trauma and exert a negative influence on individuals, she conveyed her perspective on the practice. She observed that the consequences possess the potential to exert influence on a person’s mature years, resulting in a detrimental effect on society as a whole. In pursuit of balanced and inclusive progress, she made a fervent plea to the collaborative forces of education development partners, donors, and NGOs, calling upon them to broaden their scope of assistance and extend their valuable interventions to every corner of the nation.


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