The early childhood education is a field that has been rather slow to take up the challenge of sustainability; it has a potentially significant role to play not because of underlying concerns for children’s welfare, but because of interest in children’s environments and its attention to social justice. Recently, a new dimension has been added to early childhood education for sustainability (ECEfS) as an emerging national and international field, given a fillip with the launch of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014) (UNESCO, 2005). Early Childhood Education for Sustainability (ECEfS) recognizes that young children have capacities to be active agents of change now, as well as in the future, and that early learning is important for shaping environmental attitudes, knowledge and actions. This is because early childhood is a period when the foundations of thinking, being, knowing and acting are becoming ‘hard wired’ and their relationships with others and with the environment are becoming established. It is also a time for providing significant groundings for adult activism around environmental issues (Chawla, 1998; Davis and Gibson, 2006; and Wells and Lekies, 2006). If children are to grow up in a world that maximizes their life opportunities, that recognizes their capacities as active citizens, and nurtures hope, peace, equity and sustainability. Adults cannot do ‘business as usual’ and simply pass the problems of unsustainable living on to the next generation. The UNICEF (2003) report that children need to be seen and heard in their communities with a wide range of social and environmental activities but the concern for sustainability within their environment is of great importance to them. It also observed that responsible citizenship is not something that is suddenly given at 18 years of age. Therefore, Hart(1997) insisted that even very young children have the capacity for active participation and the acquisition of political literacy and skills in the society even though it is critical that children are not seen as the ‘redemptive vehicles’(Dalberg and Petrie, 2002,) where the social (and environmental) ills of the world are cured through children. It is therefore pertinent to investigate the factors militating against the implementation of this level of education in our public schools, if we must consider the less privilege children as also having the right to early childhood education. This paper therefore examined the concept of early childhood education, brief history of the programme by different educationist, its importance, the factors militating against it implementation and give few suggestions on how it can be effectively implemented and forged ahead. Concept of early childhood education
Early childhood education is a term that describes the care taken and the teaching of young children from their birth to the age of six in Nigerian context and age of eight in some other countries of the world until they start school. The term refers to activities carried out by people outside the family and is often focused on learning through play. The facilities that provide early childhood education services include kindergartens, nurseries, pre-school classes, child-care centres and other institutions that are set within the communities. In another related development, Early Childhood Education is a term that refers to educational programme and strategies geared towards children from birth to the age of five. This time period is widely considered the most vulnerable and crucial stage of a person's life. Early childhood education also refers to all that contributes to a child's readiness to begin formal schooling. It includes much more than just academic readiness---it targets the whole child. The age range for early childhood education varies from one organization to another. Brief history of early childhood education
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Federal Government of Nigeria (2004) National Policy on Education, Abuja: NERDC
Rachel T. L. (2009), Factors Militating Against the Implementation of Early Childhood/Nursery Education in Nigeria. Journal of Childhood and Primary Education Vol. 6 No 2
Tahir, G. (1998) Implementation of Basic Education in Nigeria. Unpublished Material.
UNESCO (2006) Pre-Primary Education: A valid investment option for EFA (No 31 March-April).
UNESCO (2007) Early Childhood Education Digest Abuja Nigeria UNESCO
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